Chicago Marathon Men — A Strong Finish For Kipruto

John Korir (l) and Seifu Tura (c) couldn’t hang with Benson Kipruto in the race’s closing stages. (© 2022 BANK OF AMERICA CHICAGO MARATHON/KEVIN MORRIS)

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, October 09 — Surging away from 3 other competitors over the final 5K Benson Kipruto won the Bank Of America Chicago Marathon in a PR 2:04:24. It was his second triumph in a World Marathon Major: he unleashed a torrid finishing surge over the final 7K to win last October’s running of the 2021 Boston.

”I am happy for the results today,” the 31-year-old Kenyan professed. “I was well prepared for a fight, and to get the win the finish was important, so I was well-prepared for the final kilometers.”

The winner did well to fend off defending champ Seifu Tura of Ethiopia, 2nd in 2:04:49, with Kenyan John Korir rounding out the podium with his 2:05:01.

Connor Mantz led the home contingent, running a solid 2:08:16 debut to finish 7th in moving to No. 6 on the all-time U.S. list. Three other Americans broke 2:10 with Zach Panning 11th (2:09:28 PR), Matt McDonald 12th (2:09:49 PR) and Nicolas Montanez 13th (2:09:55).

Despite weather that invited bold pacing, it wasn’t too surprising that a field full of 2:04 performers went out at a steady high-2:04 rate. A pack of 8 was quite content to follow the two pacers through 29:35 and 29:36 segments en route to an even-paced 62:24 opening half.

Ethiopian Jemal Yimer seemed anxious to replicate his 58:33 half-marathon PR over the full distance as he nudged the pacers faster over a 14:36 segment to reach 25K in 1:13:47 — 2:04:32 pace. The steady tempo was maintained through a 14:44 before the pacers retired at 30K (1:28:31), right on 2:04:30 pace.

Bernard Koech was quick to jump into the lead, stringing out the pack and giving his competitors little opportunity to down their fluids at the 30K aid station. The Kenyan’s sharp attack quickly pared the lead pack to 4 as Yimer, Stephen Kissa, Dawit Wolde and Shifera Tamaru couldn’t respond to the challenge.

Surprisingly Korir, with a modest 2:09:08 PR, was able to keep pace as the younger brother of Wesley Korir joined Koech, Tura and Kipruto at the front through a 14:33 5K burst that dropped the projected pace to 2:04:15 at 35K (1:43:04).

Kipruto also benefited from a sibling connection as he is the younger brother of ’15 champ Dickson Chumba. Encouraged by his brother’s win, Kipruto picked up the marathon in 2016 and undoubtedly picked up plenty of second-hand Chicago knowledge along the way.

“Yes, I was so comfortable because I knew this course,” Kipruto admitted, “it is flat and we have pacemakers, so I knew it would go good, and it went good.”

He was able to bide his time waiting for the right moment to attack, which came just after 37km when his sharp acceleration instantly dropped Koech and then Korir. “It was not the plan,” Kipruto admitted. “I just thought the pace was good and I had to inject some speed for the win.”

Tura dropped 10m back but managing to keep the streaking Kenyan within reach as he was ready to launch his own attack, but Kipruto had beaten him to the punch.

“I didn’t expect that he would make a move at that point,” Tura revealed. “I had been thinking of moving around that time. Because it was a little bit on the cold side, my legs weren’t feeling so great, and at one point I felt some numbness in my legs, so I was dropped. I did my best and I couldn’t catch up. He was the best on the day and he won, and I’m happy with my results.”

Kipruto finished strongly over the final 2195m to extend his lead to 25 seconds in paring almost a minute off his 2:05:13 PR set in the ’19 Toronto Marathon. Benson is the training partner (but not brother) of London champ Amos Kipruto both of whom have fared well under the direction of coach Claudio Berardelli at manager Gianni Demadonna’s Kapsabet training camp in the Nandi Hills of western Kenya.

“Yes, my training partner won last week’s London Marathon,” he said, “so I was happy and I was prepared to come to also for a win, for a fight. He also motivated my winning today.”

Mantz made the most of his much-anticipated debut, noting, “The goal was to break that American debut record. I didn’t quite get it, but it was a great experience nonetheless.”

The 2-time NCAA Cross champion’s race went somewhat according to plan through a 63:45 opening half: “I was just hoping to get through halfway in anywhere between 1:03:30 and 1:04, get to mile 20 under 2:08 pace, then really start cranking it down. I think I may have gone a little too quick in the 10K to 15K timeframe, that kind of put me through a little bit of a wringer, so it didn’t go as good when I hit 20M or more so the 24, 25 range.”

As Mantz struggled, he lost out on the opportunity of bettering Leonard Korir’s American debut record of 2:07:56, but held on to run the second fastest debut, and better the PR of his mentor, BYU’s Ed Eyestone, by more than 2:00.


CHICAGO MEN’S RESULTS

1. Benson Kipruto (Ken) 2:04:24 PR (14:42, 14:53 [29:35], 14:49 [44:24], 14:47 [59:11], 62:25, 14:36 [1:13:47], 14:45 [1:28:32], 14:32 [1:43:04], 14:43 [1:57:47], 6:37) (62:25/61:59); 2. Seifu Tura (Eth) 2:04:49 (62:24/62:25); 3. John Korir (Ken) 2:05:01 (62:25/62:36); 4. Bernard Koech (Ken) 2:07:15 (62:24/64:51); 5. Shifera Tamru (Eth) 2:07:53 (62:25/65:28); 6. Kyohei Hosoya (Jpn) 2:08:05 (63:46/64:19);

7. Conner Mantz (US) 2:08:16 PR (AL) (6, x A) 63:45/64:31);

8. Hamza Sahli (Mor) 2:08:22 (63:46/64:36); 9. Eric Kiptanui (Neth) 2:08:26 (62:25/66:01); 10. Guojian Dong (Chn) 2:08:53 (63:46/65:07); 11. Zach Panning (US) 2:09:28 PR; 12. Matt McDonald (US) 2:09:49 PR; 13. Nicolas Montañez (US) 2:09:55; 14. Riki Nakanishi (Jpn) 2:09:59;… 18. Clayton Young (US) 2:11:51; 19. Turner Wiley (US) 2:11:59;… 22. Wilkerson Given (US) 2:13:42;… 24. Reid Buchanan (US) 2:14:06; 25. Paul Hogan (US) 2:14:55; 26. JP Flavin (US) 2:14:55; 27. Steven Martinez (US) 2:15:22; 28. Alan Peterson (US) 2:15:30; 29. Tyler McCandless (US) 2:15:50; 30. Frank Lara (US) 2:15:57.

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