Farah, Kosgei Claim Chicago (3 Regional Runners in Top 16)

By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2018 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

(07-Oct) — Britain’s Mo Farah and Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei both scored convincing wins at today’s 41st Bank of America Chicago Marathon held in cool, but very humid and rainy conditions.  The 35 year-old Farah clocked 2:05:11 in only his third completed marathon, smashing the European record of 2:05:48 set by Norway’s Sondre Nordstad Moen in Fukuoka last December.  Kosgei, 24, completely dominated the second half of the women’s race to win by nearly three minutes in a personal best 2:18:35, the third-fastest time ever in Chicago.  Both athletes won $100,000 in prize money.

(NER Ed. Note: Former U. Hartford standout Jonas Hampton ran a PR of 2:14:19 just a week after the BAA ace put in a hard effort (30:15) at the Lone Gull 10K/USATF-NE GP Championship. Unicorn teammate Katie Mathews placed 121th among women in 2:38:16. Last, but certainly not least, Maine’s Joan Samuelson topped the W60 division while placing 16th among women in 3:12:12.)

Executive race director Carey Pinkowski reintroduced pacemakers in Chicago for the first time since 2014 with positive effect.  Kenyans Titus Ekiru and Alex Korio shepherded the men’s race from the gun, taking the leaders through 5-K in 14:52, a bit slower than the 62-minute half-marathon pace which Pinkowski had specified.  At that point, fully 19 men were within five seconds of the leader, including Farah, his former training partner and defending race champion Galen Rupp (USA), 2017 Boston Marathon champion Geoffrey Kirui (KEN), 2018 Dubai Marathon winner Mosinet Geremew (ETH), two-time world champion Abel Kirui (KEN), and 2017 Japanese 10,000m champion Suguru Osako.

Not among the leaders was reigning Boston Marathon champion Yuki Kawauchi of Japan.  The prolific marathoner was already a minute off of the leaders through the first 5 kilometers, and would only finish 18th in 2:16:26.

As the race progressed the pace fluctuated, but remained slower than organizers had hoped.  The halfway mark was reached in 1:03:03, about a minute slower than planned.  Rupp, who earned the bronze medal at the 2016 Olympic Marathon, stayed tucked in the lead pack and did his best to adapt to the less-than-ideal conditions.

“The weather is what it is,” he told NBC Chicago in his post-race interview.  “I’m just trying to focus on staying relaxed and staying in it.”

Ekiru, the taller of the two pacers, dropped out at about 25-K while Korio held on a bit longer.  The pace was still gentle enough through 25-K (1:15:18) that 13 men remained in contention.  Farah wasn’t worried about the time, and was continually assessing his rivals, his head swiveling repeatedly.

“It was good to run as a group, and Suguru ran well too, another guy I used to train with it,” Farah said in his post-race television interview.  “It wasn’t so much about the pace because the conditions weren’t that great.”

Korio dropped out before 30-K, and then the race really got going when Kenya’s Kenneth Kipkemoi, last April’s Rotterdam Marathon winner, threw in a big surge.  From 30 to 35-K, Kipkemoi ran 14:33, the fastest 5-kilometer split of the race, leaving only five men still in contention: Kipkemoi, Geremew, Geoffrey Kirui, Farah and Osako.  Rupp had drifted a few seconds back and would finish fifth in 2:06:21.

“I ran as hard as I could,” Rupp said on the NBC Chicago broadcast.  “I’m not going to look back with any regrets.”

Farah, who possesses 3:28.81 1500m speed, was now right where he wanted to be.  Kipkemoi, Osako and Geoffrey Kirui were tiring, and Farah and Geremew slipped away, and it became a two-man race through the 40-K mark.  Farah waited until the last kilometer to make one hard move, and Geremew couldn’t cover it.  Pumping his right fist as he ran down the finish straight in a red Nike top and neon green arm warmers, the four-time Olympic gold medalist scored his first-ever marathon victory by a comfortable margin of 13 seconds over Geremew, 2:05:11 to 2:05:24.  He ran right into the arms of his wife, Tania, and the two hugged tightly just meters beyond the finish stripe.

“It’s amazing to cross the line first,” said Farah.  “This is a major marathon.”  He added: “I felt good towards the end of the race.  At the beginning, a bit sluggish.”

Osako won the battle for third over Kipkemoi, 2:05:50 to 2:05:57.  Osako’s mark was a new Japanese record and earned him a bonus of 100 million yen (about USD 880,000) from the Japanese Corporate Track & Field Federation.  Rupp held on for 2:06:21, the second-fastest time of his career, but 43 seconds slower than Khalid Khannouchi’s USA record of 2:05:38.

After Rupp, the other top Americans were Elkanah Kibet in 13th place (2:12:35), Aaron Braun in 14th place (2:13:16), Jonas Hampton in 15th place (2:14:19), and Parker Stinson in 16th place (2:14:29).

For Kosgei, last year’s Honolulu Marathon champion, the second half of the race had less drama than Farah’s.  By 15-K, a leading pack of five women had developed: Kosgei, 2018 Dubai Marathon champion Roza Dereje (ETH), 2018 Tokyo Marathon fourth-placer Shure Demise (ETH), two-time Chicago Marathon winner Florence Kiplagat (KEN) and two-time Tokyo Marathon winner Birhane Dibaba (ETH).  Those five would stay together –accompanied by a clutch of sub-elite men– through halfway (1:10:09) and 25-K (1:23:29).

The next 10 kilometers would decide the race.  Kosgei ran 16:32 between 25-K and 30-K, fast enough to drop both Kiplagat and Birhane (who then dropped out with a leg injury).  But Kosgei really upped the pace over the next 5-kilometer segment, blasting 15:36 through 35-K to put the race away.  She opened such a big lead that even the long shot of the lead motorcycle’s television camera couldn’t pick up anyone behind her.

“I was happy, I was able to move today , no struggling, no nothing,” Kosgei said in her post-race television interview.  She added: “I was OK because of the rain, I enjoy.”

Kosgei ended up winning by two minutes and 43 seconds over Dereje (2:21:18).  Demise was third in 2:22:15, Kiplagat fourth in 2:26:08, and Kenya’s Veronicah Nyaruai was fifth in 2:31:34.  American Sarah Crouch finish an unexpected sixth in 2:32:37, and 2016 Olympic triathlon gold medalist Gwen Jorgensen finished 11th in her second marathon in 2:36:23, a personal best.  Another American hopeful, Laura Thweatt, dropped out after reaching 15-K in 53:31 (2:30:33 pace).

Executive race director Pinkowski was happy with the results, especially after three relatively slow winning times were recorded over the last three years when the race did not employ pacemakers.

“What a day, what performances we had,” a clearly delighted Pinkowski told NBC Chicago after the race.

PHOTO: Mo Farah poses for photographers after winning the 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon in a European record 2:05:11 (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly from NBC SportsGold broadcast).

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