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Mosop sets record at Chicago Marathon, Shobukhova three-peats

Moses Mosop Kenycrosses finish line with an unoffical time 2:05:37 Chicago MarathSunday Oct. 09 2011 Chicago. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times

Moses Mosop of Kenya crosses the finish line with an unoffical time of 2:05:37 at the Chicago Marathon Sunday, Oct. 09, 2011, in Chicago. | John J. Kim~Sun-Times

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Updated: November 16, 2011 11:53AM

Hot or not, a couple of lion-sized races put the 2011 Bank of America Chicago Marathon into the record books.

Kenyan Moses Mosop set the course record, and Russian Liliya Shobukhova became the second-fastest female marathoner Sunday morning and first to three-peat in Chicago.

Despite easing up the last four miles, Mosop established the course record of 2 hours, 5 minutes, 37 seconds.

‘‘I knew I would get the record,’’ said Mosop, nicknamed the ‘‘Big Engine’’ by his fellow runners in his earlier cross-country pursuits.

Fellow Kenyan, the late Sammy Wanjiru, set the previous Chicago record in 2009 with a 2:05:41.

In a steady performance, Shobukhova finished in a surprisingly strong 2:18:20 to three-peat. Only Great Britain’s Paula Radcliffe has run marathons faster (three times), including setting the Chicago course record in 2002 (2:17:18) and the world record (2:15:25, London, April 13, 2003).

‘‘According to our plan, we were training for 2:19-something,’’ Shobukhova said. ‘‘The time of 2:18:20, yes, of course, it was an unexpected surprise, very overwhelming and emotional for me.’’

Heat was expected to be a factor in the race. It was officially 64 degrees at the 7:30 a.m. start, but it didn’t faze the champions. The weather affected the bulk of the projected record 37,400 starters (from 45,000 entrants), who ran into the heat of the day. It was uncertain if the race death of one runner, first since 2007, was related to the warmth or not.

‘‘Today was a little bit hot for us,’’ Mosop said. ‘‘I enjoyed the course very much. The only problem was the humidity.’’

Perspective matters in weather.

‘‘The weather is absolutely gorgeous, golden trees and everything,’’ Shobukhova said. ‘‘[Back in Russia], it is snowing up to here already. I don’t want to leave Chicago.’’

When they leave, their checking accounts will be fatter. Both earned $100,000 for winning. Mosop added $50,000 for the course record. Shobukhova added $40,000 for her sub-2:20. More important, the victory locked up the 2010-11 World Marathon Majors series for Shobukhova and earned her another $500,000.

Mosop had a challenging race from fellow Kenyan Wesley Korir, who made a significant push to separate from the lead pack around the 30K water station.

‘‘That was the time to make a move,’’ he said. ‘‘I knew Moses is a very strong guy. I knew that I was awakening a lion that was asleep. I would wake him up, and he would come. Tried to stay behind him, but he kept going.’’

Near Chinatown, Mosop did come with brutally fast splits of 4:38 in the 19th mile and 4:37 in the 20th to seize control. Korir finished second, 38 seconds back.

Mosop’s performance was more remarkable as he was dealing with an earlier injury that had him 85 percent healthy.

‘‘I am not surprised,’’ Mosop’s coach, Renato Canova, said. ‘‘I explained it clearly. I believe Moses can run 2:02. If you can run 2:02, then you can run 2:05 at 85 percent.’’

A 2:02 would obliterate the world record (2:03:38) set by fellow Kenyan Patrick Makau in Berlin on Sept. 25.

Shobukhova is not ready for world records. Yet. Her next goal is 2:17, well short of Radcliffe’s world record.

But in running her sub-2:20, Shobukhova met one of her goals for the day and became only the 12th woman to break that barrier.

Shobukhova moved into the lead in the 16th mile, then stretched it to win by nearly four minutes over Ethiopian Ejegayehu Dibaba (2:22:09), who made a remarkable marathon debut.

‘‘I think that to run sub-2:20, you have to use new tactics,’’ Shobukhova said. ‘‘That is why I tried different tactics to go fast right away, and my track background helped a lot.’’

She targeted doing the first half in 1:09:30. She did it in 1:09:25, then upped her second half to a 1:08:55 to run into history.

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