Dennis Kimetto of Kenya celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the Chicago Marathon with a new course record in Chicago, Illinois, yesterday. RIGHT: Rita Jeptoo of Kenya celebrates after winning the women’s race.
CHICAGO: Dennis Kimetto out-dueled fellow Kenyan Emmanuel Mutai in the final mile yesterday to win the Chicago Marathon in a course record of 2 hours, 3 minutes 45 seconds.
The two were neck-and-neck for much of the race before Kimetto pulled way in the closing stages to win the first major US marathon since the bombings at the Boston Marathon in April killed three people.
Kimetto beat the course record of 2:04:38 set by Ethiopian Tsegaye Kebede last year and added the Chicago title to the Tokyo Marathon crown he won in February.
Kimetto flirted with but ultimately fell short of the world record of 2:03:23 set by Wilson Kipsang in Berlin last month, but he was pleased to claim the Chicago course mark and a $75,000 bonus that came with it.
“I am happy because I set a course record,” he said. “The conditions were very good.”
It marked the third straight year a course record was set in Chicago.
Kenyan Moses Mosop had clocked a record of 2:05:37 in 2011, but settled for eighth place yesterday.
Mutai was second in 2:03:52 and two more Kenyans, Sammy Kitwara and Micah Kogo rounded out the top four, with American Dathan Ritzenhein fifth.
Rita Jeptoo continued Kenya’s dominance with a victory in the women’s race in 2hr 19min 57sec.
Jeptoo erased the bitter memory of her one-second loss to Ethiopian Atsede Baysa last year, and while she had the victory in hand pushed herself at the end to break the 2:20 mark.
“I feel good, I’m happy,” said Jeptoo, whose time was the fastest by a woman this year.
“This year I trained very, very good because I was training with a new coach. I was not 100 percent thinking I am going to win but because of training I believe I ran good.”
She was comfortably in front of compatriot Jemima Sumgong Jelegat, who finished second in 2:20:48. Russian Maria Konovalova was third, ahead of Aliaksandra Duliba of Belarus and Baysa.
Jeptoo claimed her second major US title of 2013. She had already wrapped up victory in Boston and received her prize when two bombs went off near the finish line, killing three and injuring some 200 people.
A moment of silence in memory of the Boston attacks was held at the start in Chicago, where organizers beefed up security procedures.
For the first time, access to the finish area required a ticket, and a massive police presence reassured fans and family members that everything that could be had been done to protect some 40,000 runners and more than a million fans expected along the 26.2 mile course.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of runners showed no fear in the first major US marathon since the Boston bombing.
Cheering and even leaping into the crisp Chicago air as they crossed the start line.
Security was certainly tight and a massive police presence reassured fans and family members that everything that could be had been done to protect the 26.2 mile course.
But the new restrictions and massive show of force -- including federal marshals carrying machine guns among the crowd -- did little to take away from the jubilance of watching 45,000 people push themselves to the limit.
“I’m really emotional,” said Lindsay Decker, 23, who was supporting her sister’s first marathon. “I cried when I saw her -- I’m so proud.”
Decker hadn’t thought too much about the Boston attack until she saw a truck marked “explosives team” parked on the street and her brother-in-law pointed out snipers positioned on rooftops.
“I’m not worried,” she told AFP. “I feel pretty safe because there’s a lot of cops around.”
The Boston attack killed three people and injured more than 200 others when two pressure cooker bombs went off near the marathon’s finish line on April 16.
Canadian wheelchair racer Diane Roy, 42, was in Boston for the marathon but had long finished when a friend called with the terrible news.
The attack was on her mind at her next big race in London -- where she came in 9th -- but she refuses to let it intimidate her.
“I’m going to focus on my course,” she told AFP two nights before race day.
People need to stand up to terrorists and show them that life will go on despite the threats, said Philippe DuBois, 43, who flew in from Paris for the race.
“The attack gave me even more motivation to go to the United States for a marathon,” DuBois said.
The enthusiasm of the massive crowd was contagious.
Some runners wore tutus; others donned capes and costumes. A few even juggled. Fans rang cow bells, banged noisemakers and waved signs of support. Upbeat music poured out of speakers along the course.
Cool temperatures made for perfect conditions as the massive field ran past sun drenched trees just starting to show their fall colors.
“The world will watch the endurance of the human spirit to persevere,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel told reporters.
“An entire city, an entire country and an entire world saying ‘we will not be deterred.’” AGENCIES