CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, October 13—Just a day after Eliud Kipchoge went sub 2:00, Brigid Kosgei shocked the marathon world going 81 seconds sub-Paula, running a stupefying 2:14:04 World Record in the Windy City. “I can’t believe that I have run this time,” she exclaimed, echoing an almost universal sentiment.
The 25 year-old Kenyan phenom has been on an unbeaten and unchallenged tear since her 2:18:35 win in Chicago last year. This time she embraced a brazenly ballistic pacing strategy as she lit out from the start running shockingly close to the men’s lead pack and passed the 2M marker in 9:58. Much to her surprise, Ethiopian Yeshaneh Ababel, whose PR was just 2:24:02, had the audacity to go with her. But not for long as Kosgei sped on and opened an 8 second lead at 5K (15:28). (Continued below)
Obviously the favorite was ready to take advantage of a race day that broke far less cold and windy than expected. The field set off at 7:30 AM with 5–12 mph winds, a temperature of 47 degrees, and a record-ready 31-degree dew point. Running north towards Wrigleyville, Kosgei rode a tailwind through a series of eye-popping splits, reaching 10K in 31:18, a mind-numbing 2:12:46 pace. Turning back into the wind, the pace slipped a bit to 2:13:26 at 15K (47:26), and 2:13:52 at 20K (1:03:27) before crossing the halfway mat in 66:59. Paula Radcliffe had reached the midway point in her WR at 68:02. At 25K (1:19:33—2:14:16 pace), it appeared Kosgei’s advantage over Radcliffe’s tempo might quickly evaporate—that is before she beckoned her pacers for a little more tempo.
“I never worried,” Kosgei said, “I watched the pace clock and when I see it go high it is OK, and when it goes slow, I tell the pacers to increase it a little bit.” That they did with a 15:45 segment, dropping the pace to 2:14:02 after crossing 30K in 1:35:18. While far less substantial than a Kipchoge formation, Kosgei enjoyed a formidable pacing effort as she was adeptly guided by training partners Edwin Koech (2:07:13 PR) and Emmanuel Saina (2:05:02 PR), all of whom are coached by Erick Kimaiyo (2:07:52 PR). Running with upright posture, rhythmically swinging arms and a blur of a stride, Kosgei rolled on deep into the race, well under Radcliffe pace. “I never had a problem,” she said. “I just focused on the effort.”
The 35K mats were crossed in 1:51:14—2:14:06 pace, and with both pacers retiring before 40K (2:07:11—2:14:10 pace) Kosgei dug in and increased her efforts and tempo as she sped home to end Radcliffe’s 16-year reign. “I can’t explain it, I feel lucky that I was able to do it,” said the new WR holder, who wore Nike Vaporfly Next% shoes, the same footwear Kipchoge used for his barrier-breaking run. ”When I started the race, in my mind I said, ‘I need 2:15 for Paula.’ People were cheering, ‘You are running the World Record,’ So when I hear the crowd cheering me, I have the energy to go, go, go.”
Race director Carey Pinkowski celebrated his 30th year at the helm in grand style, noting, “We haven’t had a World Record here for 17 years [Radcliffe 2:17:18 in ’02], but Brigid has been on a great trajectory since winning last year’s race.” Ababel held on to finish 2nd in a big PR 2:20:51, and fellow Ethiopian Gelete Burka finished 4 seconds later. Emma Bates was the top American, finishing a very solid 4th in 2:25:27. Stephanie Bruce (2:27:47), Lindsey Flanagan (2:28:08), Laura Thweatt (2:29:06) and Taylor Ward (2:30:14) all cracked the top ten. Jordan Hasay’s hopes for a fast run were dispatched just minutes into the race when a hamstring gave out.
The men didn’t stage a record chase, instead serving up a great competitive race. Four men ran together just 400m from the finish before reigning Boston champ Lawrence Cherono sprinted to victory in 2:05:46. The field set off at a 2:04 clip—fast enough to drop defending champ Mo Farah and ’17 winner Galen Rupp by 12K. The Briton would fade to 8th with a rather solitary 2:09:58 effort, while Rupp was forced to retire after 23M with leg cramps.
More than ready to run with Cherono were fellow Kenyans Dickson Chumba and Bedan Muchiri, and the Ethiopian trio of Dejene Debela, Asefa Mengistu and Seifu Tura who hung together at 2:05:02 pace through 30K (1:28:58).
Muchiri threw in some surges that dropped Chumba and then Tura, leaving a couple of formidable Kenyans to battle a pair of somewhat unheralded Ethiopians over the final 5 kilometers—and as it turned out the final 500m. Heading into Chicago’s famed hill up Roosevelt Street Debela moved his formidable frame to the front, dropping Muchiri, and engaging Mengistu in a fierce battle up the incline. “I could see those guys fighting on the hill,” Cherono said, “so I decided to wait until we make the turn to launch my attack.” Turning onto Columbus 300 meters from the finish, Cherono went right to the front and replicated his sprint win last April in Boston over WC Lelisa Desisa, breaking the tape in 2:05:45. The 25 year-old Debela crossed a second later in a huge PR. Jake Riley was the top American, finishing 9th in 2:10:36, with Jerrell Mock following a second later. In all, 10 Americans bettered 2:12.
CHICAGO MARATHON RESULTS
World Marathon Major; Chicago, Illinois, October 13—
1. Lawrence Cherono (Ken) 2:05:45; 2. Dejene Debela (Eth) 2:05:46 PR; 3. Asefa Mengistu (Eth) 2:05:48; 4. Bedan Muchiri (Ken) 2:05:53 PR; 5. Bashir Abdi (Bel) 2:06:14 NR; 6. Abdiwak Tura (Eth) 2:08:35; 7. Dickson Chumba (Ken) 2:09:11; 8. Mo Farah (GB) 2:09:58; 9. Jake Riley (US) 2:10:36 PR;
10. Jerrell Mock (US) 2:10:37 PR (debut); 11. Parker Stinson (US) 2:10:53 PR; 12. Andrew Bumbalough (US) 2:10:56 PR; 13. Minato Oishi (Jpn) 2:11:02; 14. Matt McDonald (US) 2:11:10 PR; 15. Scott Smith (US) 2:11:14 PR; 16. Brendan Gregg (US) 2:11:38 PR; 17. Noah Droddy (US) 2:11:42 PR;
18. Wilkerson Given (US) 2:11:44 PR; 19. Diego Estrada (US) 2:11:54 PR; 20. Tsubasa Hayakawa (Jpn) 2:12:25; 21. Ryoma Takeuchi (Jpn) 2:12:26; 22. Brian Shrader (US) 2:13:27 PR (debut); 24. Alex Monroe (US) 2:14:15 PR; 25. Colin Mickow (US) 2:14:52 PR (debut); 26. Daniel Kremske (US) 2:14:53 PR; 27. Willie Milam (US) 2:14:54 PR; 28. Alan Peterson (US) 2:14:56 PR.
1. Brigid Kosgei (Ken) 2:14:04 WR (old WR 2:15:15 Paula Radcliffe [GB] ’03);
2. Ababel Yeshaneh (Eth) 2:20:51 PR; 3. Gelete Burka (Eth) 2:20:55; 4. Emma Bates (US) 2:25:27 PR; 5. Fionnuala McCormack (Ire) 2:26:47 PR; 6. Stephanie Bruce (US) 2:27:47 PR; 7. Lindsay Flanagan (US) 2:28:08 PR; 8. Laura Thweatt (US) 2:29:06;
9. Lisa Weightman (Aus) 2:29:45; 10. Taylor Ward (US) 2:30:14 PR; 11. Madaí Pérez (Mex) 2:31:44; 12. Sarah Sellers (US) 2:31:49 PR; 13. Anke Esser (Ger) 2:32:06 PR; 14. Shiho Kaneshige (Jpn) 2:33:16; 15. Mia Behm (US) 2:33:47 PR (debut); 16. Jennifer Bergman (US) 2:34:37 PR;
17. Lindsey Anderson (US) 2:35:28 PR; 18. Alyssa Schneider (US) 2:35:31PR; 19. Julia Roman-Duval (US) 2:35:41 PR; 20. Marie-Ange Brumelot (Fra) 2:36:23 PR; 21. Lindy Jones (US) 2:36:57 PR; 22. Jane Bareikis (US) 2:37:28 PR; 23. Gina Rouse (US) 2:38:44 PR; 24. Kristen Heckert (US) 2:39:33; 25. McKale Montgomery (US) 2:40:48 PR.