Chicago Marathon Men — Tura Edges Rupp

Seifu Tura’s 2:06:12 beat Galen Rupp by 23 seconds, with Eric Kiptanui another 26 seconds back. (KEVIN MORRIS/BANK OF AMERICA CHICAGO MARATHON)

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, October 10 — While 72-degree (22C) warmth and a killer 63-degree dew point put to rest any hopes for zipper-quick times at the Bank Of America Marathon, it didn’t preclude an exciting footrace as Seifu Tura edged Galen Rupp, surging hard over the final kilometers to claim a well-earned 2:06:12 win. The American came home 2nd in 2:06:35, just 28 seconds off his PR and the No. 6 U.S. performance ever.

The 24-year-old Tura, who ran a 2:04:29 PR this May in Milan, proclaimed, “I just was determined to fight till the very end to my best. The first half was not too fast, so that helped me and I was able to do well.”

“Seifu had an unbelievable race,” Rupp conceded. “He took the initiative several miles out and just kept it going and I wasn’t able to stay with it. But, overall, I was really happy with the way I ran today. It’s been a hard last couple of years for me, coming back from surgery. It has been really rough, and this is certainly a big confidence-booster.”

In many ways this race took shape at the last running of the Chicago 26-miler in ’19 when Tura and Rupp both had somewhat disappointing outings.

In that race the Ethiopian was dropped from the lead pack after 35K and faded to a 6th-place 2:08:35 finish. Tura said of that disappointing appearance, “I was a late entry, did not have a full preparation and it was not my best effort. This time I trained three months specifically for this race and if the weather was good, I thought I could run 2:03.”

The ’19 race was much worse for Rupp, who frayed his Achilles and limped off the course late in the race headed for major surgery and a significant career reset at age 33. A significant recovery period followed, along with a significant coaching change as he moved on to Mike Smith of Northern Arizona after Alberto Salazar’s troubles.

On the fly, Rupp and Smith managed to cobble together enough fitness to win the Olympic Trials in early ’20, yet even with the postponement year, a series of injury issues produced something less than the ideal Tokyo buildup and a not really good/not really bad 8th-place Olympic finish.

Yet, in the span of just an 8-week turnaround post-Sapporo, Rupp managed a patch of particularly good health and came to Chicago on an uptick in training, fitness and mentality, and was more than ready to race.

Despite the balmy conditions, the race got off to a rapid start as Ethiopian Aredo Tamru cut loose with a 14:36 opening 5K. A 7-man pack caught him at 10K (29:15, a tailwind-aided 2:03:25 pace). Tamru then bolted past the pacers to a 15-second lead at 15K (44:06) before slowing as the race headed back into the wind. Hitting 20K in 59:10 with a 3-second lead, Tamru ran with a 6-man lead pack that crossed halfway together in 62:29.

Rupp was 10 seconds back after cautiously freelancing the first half, lagging 30–60m off the pace before rejoining the pack in kilo 23. For the next 7K the tidy pack of 7 remained together, ever-slowing as the course trended into 5–10mph winds, reaching 30K in 1:30:06 — a tad over a 3:00K clip (2:06:44 pace).

After biding his time at the back of the pack, Tura went to work and progressively took firm control of this race. Turning east in kilo 31, Tura strung out the pack, dropping Tamru and Kenyan Reuben Kipyego. Turning back into the wind a few minutes later, Tura surged really hard, quickly jetting away from Ethiopian Chalu Deso and Japanese Recordholder Kengo Suzuki.

Suddenly, it was a 3-man race with only Rupp and Kenyan Eric Kiptanui clinging to Tura’s charge as he crossed 35K in 1:45:01, logging an impactful 14:55 headwind split. The trio remained together until the course turned back north at 37K, picking up the tailwind on the stretch run to Grant Park.

Tura applied constant pressure and in the 38th kilometer surged again, opening up a 30-meter lead. Tura’s early move came in full respect of Rupp as he noted, “He’s someone I know from the track and he has a strong finish. I knew I had to be careful.”

With refreshing candor, Tura added, “By the way I want to take this opportunity to say that Galen is an athlete whom I really admire and I’m very happy to have raced him here. I knew that I had to move then, because. If we were still close towards the end, then there could be trouble”

For his part, Rupp moved past Kiptanui and fought to remain in contact running a tangent opposite of Tura and trailing by just 6 seconds in the 39th kilo. He admitted that Tura’s move “didn’t surprise me at all. I think anything after 20km you’ve got to be ready for anything, that’s when races are won and lost. He definitely started to push and I was doing everything I could to try to cover it.”

While Tura showed some fatigue in his high arm carry, he dug deep and surged again before the 40K aid station and crossed the mat with a 9-second lead in 1:59:44 off a decisive 14:45 split.

Summed up Rupp, after his U.S.-leading time, “It was a great field, I just didn’t quite have it at the end, he really ran an unbelievable race. That’s the way it goes sometimes.”

1. Seifu Tura (Eth) 2:06:12
2. Galen Rupp (US) 2:06:35 (AL) (x, 6 A)
3. Eric Kiptanui (Ken) 2:06:51
4. Kengo Suzuki (Jpn) 2:08:50
5. Shifera Tamru (Eth) 2:09:39
6. Colin Mickow (US) 2:13:31
7. Nico Montanez (US) 2:13:55
8. Reuben Kipyego (Ken) 2:14:24
9. Reed Fischer (US) 2:14:41
10. Wilkerson Given (US) 2:14:55