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Kenya’s Rita Jeptoo wins women’s side of Chicago Marathon in personal best

Updated: October 13, 2013 8:34PM



Rita Jeptoo ran into space Sunday at the 36th Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

She not only separated from the rest of the field and posted her personal best of 2 hours, 19 minutes, 57 seconds. For busting the 2:20 barrier, she added a $40,000 bonus to her $100,000 payday.

“The race was very, very nice,’’ the 32-year-old Kenyan said. “Weather was good. Today, I am happy to be in Chicago again. I was feeling around 2:20 or 2:21. Today, I am happy because I am running my best time.’’

And because it wasn’t a repeat of last year.

Last year, Ethiopia’s Atsede Baysa and Jeptoo ran to the closest finish in race history (a one-second victory by Baysa in 2:22:03). That was Jeptoo’s previous best time.

“Last year, I was maybe not ready,’’ Jeptoo said. “This year, I was really, ­really ready. Today, I was with my friends.’’

It wasn’t close at the end. In the final miles, fellow Kenyan Jemima Jelagat Sumgong and Jeptoo separated from the field. Then, between 35 and 40 kilometers, Jeptoo put space between her and Jelagat Sumgong convincingly.

Jelagat Sumgong finished second in 2:20:48, easily the 28-year-old’s personal best. Her previous best (2:23:37) came April 14, when she won Rotterdam.

“Today was very good for me,’’ she said. “I am not disappointed. I am very satisfied.’’

So was Jeptoo, who also ran the fastest women’s marathon of 2013.

And she was right about the weather.

Conditions were nearly as ideal as they ever were for the Chicago Marathon’s 26.2-mile course that winds through 29 neighborhoods. It begins and ends in Grant Park, going as far north as Addison, as far west as Damen and as far south as 35th.

It was 53 degrees at the 7:30 a.m. start for the elite runners, but it warmed into the mid-50s several miles into the course. There was a breeze of 5-10 mph from the northwest, different than the anticipated light breezes from the north-northeast.

Executive race director Carey Pinkowski was worried about the high humidity through the night, but then the humidity and temperatures dropped before the start.

“Mother Nature cooperated,’’ he said.

Early on, Russian Maria Konovalova and Baysa set a hot pace.

Konovalova posted her personal best time (2:22:46) and her best finish at third, topping the her previous best time (2:23:50) in finishing fourth in Chicago in 2010.

“I was running aggressively, and I did not feel any pain,’’ she said.

Neither did Jeptoo, whose last major title came at the Boston Marathon in 2006.

In the 23rd mile, she built a seven-second lead and ran away from any repeat of last year.

“I was feeling strong when I went to go,’’ she said. “I am confident going and good.’’

Unlike the men’s side, neither the women’s course or world records were in any danger. The women’s course record (2:17:18) was set by Great Britain’s Paula Radcliffe in 2002. Radcliffe set the world record (2:15:25) in London in 2003.

Rita Jeptoo separated from fellow Kenyan Jemima Jelagat Sumgong in the final miles Sunday of the 36th Bank of America Chicago Marathon, winning the women’s side in 2:19:57 in her personal best.

She earned $40,000 for busting 2:20, her personal goal.

Jeptoo and Jelagat Sumgong separated from a pack around late in the race.

Last year, Ethiopia’s Atsede Baysa and Jeptoo ran to the closest finish in race history (a one-second victory in 2:22:03 by Baysa).

But Jeptoo lived up to what she said Friday, ``Last year was last year.’’

This year was competitive, but nowhere near as close as 2012. And nowhere near the the women’s course record (2:17:18), set by Great Britain’s Paula Radcliffe in 2002.

Conditions were nearly ideal as they ever were for the Chicago Marathon.

It was 46 degrees at 7:30 a.m. start for the elite runners, but it warmed quickly into the mid-50s several miles into the course. There was a breeze of 5-10 mph from the northwest, different than the anticipated light breezes from the north-northeast.

Temperatures were projected to rise into the 60s for ordinary marathoners. Those are good conditions for both elite and ordinary marathoners. That explains why race staff expects to top the record of 37,475 finishers last year.

The 26.2-mile course winds through 29 Chicago neighborhoods, beginning at Monroe and Columbus, going as far north as Addison, as far west as Damen, as far south as 35th, and finishing in Grant Park on Columbus.

This was truly an international event. The elite field drew athletes from 13 counties. And this year saw the greatest contingent of foreign runners — 10,264 out of 45,000 — registered overall. Starters were 40,143, up 2,000 from last year.

The crowd was expected to be 1.7 million.



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