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Kenyans, first runners to cross Chicago Marathon finish line, smash record

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Updated: October 13, 2013 10:09PM



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 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. 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. That different wind direction meant the field slowed slightly around 11 miles. But then ran a 4:39 in the 12th mile. 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. Conditions were nearly as ideal as they ever were for the Chicago Marathon. Mutai pushed to the lead in the 22nd mile, then Kimetto pushed abreast. In the 23rd, Kimetto led as they ran a blistering 4:32. A missed water bottle by Mutai late in the race, allowed Kimetto to build a lead. In the 19th mile, Kenyans Sammy Kitwara and Mutai pushed the pack with a 4:33 mile. But Kimetto eventually stayed with them. The field was surprisingly competitive with eight still in the lead pack at 19 miles, where the field hit a head wind and slowed to a 4:50 pace. In 2011, Kenya’s Moses Mosop had set the previous course record (2:05:37). From the beginning, the men’s field chased the course record of 2:04:38, set by Ethiopian Tsegaye Kebede last year, and flirted with the pace for the world record (2:03:23), set by Kenyan Wilson Kipsang on Sept. 29 at the Berlin Marathon. Kimetto earned a $75,000 bonus for the course record.Kenyans Dennis Kimetto and Emannuel Mutai pushed each other to smash the course record Sunday for the 36th Bank of America Chicago Marathon with Kimetto winning in 2:03:45, short of the world record.There was mystery of the missed water bottle Sunday and the mystery of the one-time Kenyan farmer who won the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in smashing style.

But there was no mystery that Dennis Kimetto smashed the course record in 2:03:45, the fourth fastest marathon ever run by a man and only 22 seconds off the world record.

For setting the course record, Kimetto, 29, added $75,000 to his $100,00 pay day.

“Conditions were very good,’’ said Kimetto, who only ran his first marathon in Berlin last year (second with 2:04:16). “I am happy.’’

As he should be, considering he was a farmer until he started running competitively in 2010 after an encounter with Geoffrey Mutai, now his training partner.

The mystery on race day was whether the pace was torrid enough to challenge the world record (2:03:23), set by Kenyan Wilson Kipsang on Sept. 29 at the Berlin Marathon.

From the beginning, there was little question the course record would go. That mark of 2:04:38 was set by Ethiopian Tsegaye Kebede last year.

The lead men ran the half in 1:01:50.

“Those guys raced each other,” executive race director Carey Pinkowski said. “I always felt great times come out of great competition. It was good racing. Our rabbits set a good even pace and they took it from there.”

Once the rabbits — pace-setters — were gone, Kimetto and fellow Kenyan Emmanuel Mutai pushed each other.

The field was surprisingly competitive with eight men in the lead pack at 19 miles, where the field hit a head wind and slowed to a 4:50 pace.

In the 19th mile, Kenyans Sammy Kitwara and Mutai pushed the pack with a 4:33 mile. But Kimetto eventually stayed with them.

Mutai pushed to the lead in the 22nd mile, then Kimetto pushed abreast. In the 23rd, Kimetto led as they ran a blistering 4:32. A missed water bottle by Mutai late in the race, allowed Kimetto to build a lead.

“It was just going back and forth,” said Don Owino, who was called up to translate from Swahili for Kimetto. “With three miles left, he had to make his move. Once he got forward, he stayed.’’

Kimetto had no idea that Mutai missed his last water bottle, though he added strides when that happened.

“I am very happy with the way I fought through the last mile, missed the bottle,’’ Mutai said. “That is how he broke away.’’

But Mutai did not think that would have changed the outcome.

“Dennis was more stronger than me,’’ he said.

Mutai also ran what would have been a course record (2:03:52). Kenyans also held the next two spots: Kitwara (2:05:15) and Micah Kogo (2:06:56).

Conditions were nearly ideal for chasing records.

It was 53 46 degrees at the 7:30 a.m. elite start, then warmed into the mid-50s within a few miles. There was a breeze of 5-10 mph from the northwest, different than the anticipated light breezes from the north-northeast.

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



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