Kenyans ruled the Chicago Marathon this weekend after Benson Kipruto ran a new personal best time of 2:04:24 to win the men’s race. At the same time, less than 10 minutes behind, Ruth Chepngetich came to finish the women’s race in a sensational and historic 2:14:18.
Chepngetich’s run was a memorable one. After crossing the 5K in 15:11 and the 10K in 30:40, Chepngetich’s predicted finish time was an unimaginable sub 2:10 minutes marathon for the women. Her pace ranged from around 3:02 – 3:04/km, which was incredible even for a men’s race.
But her race would gradually retrogress from a possible sub 2:10 marathon to a possible new world record and up to narrowly missing the world record after struggling towards the end.
She was on schedule for a 2:10 finishing time at the 15km mark, where she crossed in 46:19, some 3 minutes ahead of her chasers who would cross the same point in 49:17. She was closer to the men’s leading pack ahead of her than to the women chasing her.
Up to the 35K point, Chepngetich looked comfortably inside the world record schedule. After that, however, she began to show signs of losing the battle on the world record at the 40K point where she crossed it at 2:07:02. This was faster by 9 seconds compared to Brigid Kosgei’s 2:07:11 while going for the world record that would narrowly survive in the end. Still, it was clear that Chepngetich was trying hard to keep the pace on the world record schedule.
She watched helplessly on the homestretch to the finishing tape as the seconds ticked by past the world record time. But, the world champion should be comforted with the second-fastest time in history that she registered and from the fact that she now knows what she can achieve with the right pacing.
Behind her, USA’s Emily Sisson broke away from the chasing pack just before 35km, and kept an almost constant gap of slightly over 4 minutes on Chepngetich to finish second in a new American Record of 2:18:29. Kenya’s Vivian Kiplagat followed in 2:20:52 to settle in third place.
In the men’s race, a relatively large pack went together past the halfway point in 1:02:24. At around the 35K mark, the pace gradually increased, and soon only four runners were at the front.
The remaining four would soon drop from the pack one by one beginning with Kenya’s Bernard Koech. John Korir followed when Benson Kipruto made a decisive move at the front and Ethiopia’s Seifu Tura held on to him momentarily before also beginning to fall behind.
Kipruto, who happens to be a training mate to Amos Kipruto who won the London Marathon last weekend, gradually increased the gap at the front to win the race in a new personal best time.
Tura, the defending champion, held on to finish second in 2:04:49 ahead of Korir, who completed the podium in 2:05:01.
Korir’s podium finish was his first at a world marathon majors event, and his finishing time was also a massive improvement on his previous personal best time of 2:09:08.