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New Course Record Set at Chicago Marathon

CONVINCING COURSE RECORD FOR KIMETTO AT CHICAGO MARATHON
By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2013 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

CHICAGO
(13 October) — Taking full advantage of a fast early pace, Kenya’s
Dennis Kimetto smashed the course record of the Bank of America Chicago
Marathon here today, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, clocking the
fourth-fastest time in history on a record-legal course: 2:03:45. In
the women’s contest, Kenyan compatriot Rita Jeptoo rallied back from
her narrow defeat here last year, breaking away from training partner
Jemina Jelagat Sumgong in the final kilometers to record the first
sub-2:20 marathon in the world this year: 2:19:57. Both athletes won
$100,000 in prize money plus time bonuses.

“We had some good
traditional Chicago Marathon fast running,” observed longtime executive
race director Carey Pinkowski, whose timing and scoring team reported
40,143 starters.

MEN RAN AGGRESSIVELY FROM THE START

With
six red-shirted pacemakers on the front, a lead pack of 19 men scorched
through the first 5 kilometers in 14:45, a 2:04:29 pace. Surprisingly,
that fast pace did little to winnow the pack, which was still 16-strong
at 10-K (29:20), not far off of world record schedule. Behind
pacemakers Belete Assefa of Ethiopia and Abdellah Falil of Morocco,
Kimetto and Emmanuel Mutai just tried to follow along and not expend
too much energy.

“For me I was so confident from the start, but
you know I did not stay in the front,” said Mutai, who won last April’s
Virgin London Marathon. “So, I was just be patient.”

Assefa and
Falil kept the pace high, hitting 15-K in 44:00 (14:38) and 20-K in
58:39 (14:38 again). There were still 13 men within four seconds of the
lead, including Kimetto, Mutai, Moses Mosop, Sammy Kitwara and Micah
Kogo, all from Kenya. At this point, race was on a 2:03:45 pace, and
commentator Tim Hutchings began to worry that the race might blow up
after the 12th mile was run in a blistering 4:39.

“That is so quick it’s getting kind of ridiculous,” said Hutchings on the local television broadcast.

Halfway
was passed in 1:01:52 and it was startling that nine men were still in
contention. Kimetto and Mutai remained in the middle of the group, and
he later said he was just running on feel, not watching the splits. He
wasn’t thinking about the world record, but rather winning the race.

“I
didn’t pay attention to the clock at all,” said the former maize farmer
who has only been running seriously for three years. “I only paid
attention at the end. It was only at the finish line that I saw I broke
the record.”

The fast pace burned out the pacemakers, and the
only one left at 25-K (1:14:16/14:36) was Kenya’s Simon Ndirangu. He
soon retired, setting up the road running equivalent of a bare knuckles
fight over the final stages of the race. By 35-K, Kimetto, Mutai, Kogo
and Kitwara were the only athletes left in contention, and Mutai and
Kimetto decided it was time to break up the race. Kogo and Kitwara were
dropped, leaving Kimetto and Mutai running side by side, trading blows
like prizefighters.

“We were just going back and forth,” said Kimetto who denied there was any cooperation between the two adidas-sponsored Kenyans.

The
race wasn’t decided until the 40-K fluid station when Mutai reached for
his bottle and knocked it off the table. Kimetto successfully picked up
his, took a few sips, then spurted away from Mutai. He later claimed
that Mutai’s bottle bobble had no impact on the outcome of the race.

“I had no idea that even happened,” he told the media after the race. “This is the first time I am hearing about it.”

Mutai
was still running with good form, but simply could not match Kimetto’s
speed. He said that the missed bottle wasn’t the reason he lost.

“No,
the bottle was not the problem,” he explained. “I was a bit tired. I
was trying to close the gap and I could not make it. For me, maybe
Dennis was so stronger than me.”

Under cloudless skies, Kimetto
romped home with his first Chicago victory, and his second World
Marathon Majors event title this year (he also won the Tokyo Marathon
last February). His 2:03:45 was the fastest-ever time run in the United
States on a record-legal course. Mutai scored a big personal best of
2:03:52 in second, and Kitwara also ran a career best time of 2:05:16
in third. Moses Mosop, who won this race in 2011, faded to 8th in
2:11:19.

Kimetto’s win was all the more impressive because he
suffered from malaria after finishing 25th at the Semi-Marathon
Marvejols Mende in France on July 21.

“I had a race in
France, and as soon as that race got done I felt sickly, and went
immediately to the doctor,” said Kimetto. “It was only the last six
months that I started to feel better.”

The two top home-country
athletes, Olympians Dathan Ritzenhein and Matt Tegenkamp, finished
fifth and tenth, respectively, in 2:09:45 and 2:12:28. Both had hoped
to run better.

“I’m definitely disappointed from what I hoped
to run,” said Ritzenhein, who said he had hamstring problems in the
final third of the race. “I hoped to run three minutes faster.”

WOMEN TAKE MORE CAUTIOUS APPROACH

While
the men went for broke from the gun, the women took a more measured
approach. With the help of three male pacemakers, they kept their
5-kilometer splits steady in the 16:50’s, leaving nine women still in
contention at half way (1:11:15). Jeptoo, and Jelagat were in that
group, along with defending champion Atsede Baysa of Ethiopia, and
Russian Maria Konovalova, who spent much of the first half at the front
of that group. Jeptoo was feeling strong, and knew she had a good
second half ahead.

“Last year I was not ready to win,” Jeptoo
said. She continued: “During my training the way my body respond during
my training I was feeling I would maybe run 2:20 or 2:21.”

By
25-K (1:24:18/16:45), the race was down to five: Baysa, Jeptoo,
Konovalova, Jelagat and Ethiopia’s Abebech Afework. Jeptoo could sense
it was her day.

“Today I was strong, I was feeling strong,” she said. “But, I know race is race. So, I have confidence and energy for going.”

Clipping
from 25 to 30-K in 16:33, only Jelagat could match Jeptoo’s increased
tempo. Digging deep, Jeptoo tried over the next 5-K to drop her
training partner (they are both coached by Claudio Berardelli). She
dropped down to 16:07 for the next 5-K, and Jelagat stubbornly held on.
Jeptoo stepped on the gas again, this time dropping down to 15:57 for
the 5-K from 35 to 40-K. That surge finally broke Jelagat, and put
Jeptoo in sight of breaking the 2:20 barrier. She began sprinting when
she saw the finish line, coming home in 2:19:57.

“I’m happy
today because I ran my best time,” she said. She added: “Last year, I
was maybe not ready, maybe 85 (percent). But this year, I was very,
very ready.”

Jelagat set a personal best in second in 2:20:48,
and Konovalova also ran a career best of 2:22:46. Last year’s champion
Baysa finished fifth in 2:26:42.

“For me I’m very happy about
the race,” said Jelagat. “Today’s race was very good for me. I’m not
dissatisfied; I’m very happy, very satisfied.”

The top American
was Clara Santucci, 26, of Dilliner, Pa. The former West Virgina
University athlete clocked 2:31:39 in ninth place.

“It’s the
marathon so you never know what’s going to happen,” said Santucci. She
continued: “Halfway, I was right on target to break 2:30 (but) I made
my goal to be the first American.”

PHOTO: Dennis Kimetto of
Kenya wins the 2013 Bank of America Chicago Marathon in a course record
2:03:45

ENDS

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