NAIROBI, October 12 – Evans Cheruiyot won his second marathon crown in as many races when he triumphed in Chicago on Sunday.,
The 26 year old broke away from runner up David Mandago in the 25th mile to win in a new personal best of 2:06:25 shaving almost three seconds off his previous PB that he set when he won Milan Marathon last year.
Russia’s Lidiya Grigoryeva made her break in the 21st mile to defeat Russia’s Alevtina Biktimirova, 26, by two minutes and 15 seconds in 2:27:17 and win the women’s race.
Cheruiyot, Mandago, and pre-race favorite Emmanuel Mutai broke open the race just before the half marathon mark, passing it in 1:02:27 with Mutai setting the tempo.
Mutai was running so fast that the leaders shed designated pacemaker Boaz Cheboiyo after 10 miles.
Despite day race temperatures that started around 20 degrees at the start and rose to near 25 C by the finish, Mutai continued to push the pace until mile 18 when Mandago took the lead and motioned to Cheruiyot to follow.
The lanky, long striding Mandago and the compact, smooth striding Cheruiyot battled each other through mile 24.
Mandago opened a gap at one point, Cheruiyot noting that Mandago seemed to be running “fartlek,” upping the tempo to test for weakness in Cheruiyot. But it was Mandago who finally cracked as Cheruiyot swept past him and ran a 4:48 25th mile to pull away for good.
Eight of the top ten men were Kenyan, while the US dominated the women’s top ten with four finishers, but the Russians took the top two spots.
Cheruiyot won $ 140,000 in prize and bonus money, and Grigoryeva took home the $100,000 first place winner’s check. When asked what they might do with their winnings, Cheruiyot said he might buy a supermarket back in Kenya.
Cheruiyot was healthy physically for the race, having run the fastest half marathon (59:29) of the competitors in Chicago in Rotterdam in September, but the former auto engineer from Eldoret had endured a stern test of character in 2004 when he moved to France to be with an agent who was later convicted and fined by the French for mistreating the athletes.
Cheruiyot had lived in a place provided by the agent with 14 other Kenyans, none of whom were paid their race winnings by the agent, according to Cheruiyot.
Cheruiyot has since changed agents and prospered on the roads circuit in Europe, but had run only one other marathon, Milan in 2007, where he triumphed in 2:09:16.
He said that because of his inexperience in the marathon, he was reluctant to make a decisive move any earlier, not knowing how he would feel. Plus, he also felt the heat and dumped water over his head at every water stop.