CHICAGO, USA October 8 – Tsegaye Kebede became the first Ethiopian man to win the Chicago Marathon by capturing Sunday’s 35th edition in a course record, with compatriot Atsede Baysa taking the women’s title by a stride.
Kebede surged in the final mile to win in 2hr 04min 38sec and defeat countryman Feyisa Lilesa by 14 seconds, with Tilahun Regassa third in 2:05:26 on his marathon debut to complete an Ethiopian men’s podium sweep.
“This is a great day for us, for Ethiopia especially,” Kebede said.
Kebede’s victory snapped a run of consecutive Chicago victories by Kenyan men at nine.
The former men’s course mark was 2:05:37 last year by Kenyan Moses Mosop.
In a women’s duel in doubt until the last second, Ethiopia’s Baysa edged Kenya’s Rita Jeptoo, the 2006 Boston Marathon winner, at the finish line.
Baysa was given an official time of 2:22:03, a personal best by one second, with Jeptoo second at 2:22:04 and Kenya’s Lucy Kabuu third, 38 seconds adrift.
“I came to win this race,” Baysa said. “When I came upon the finish line, I knew I won.”
Each champion received $100,000 for the victory, while Kebede took an extra $50,000 for setting a course record and Baysa won a $10,000 bonus for her time.
Liliya Shobukhova failed in her bid for a fourth Chicago Marathon title in a row, the 34-year-old Russian settling for fourth, 56 seconds off the pace.
“It just gives me some perspective, just take one step back and go for it again,” Shobukhova said.
Russia’s Maria Konovolova led early and Shobukhova was in front at halfway but the lead pack began to surge after 20 miles and Shobukhova fell off the pace.
Shobukhova was unable to finish the London Olympic marathon because of stomach cramps and has been nagged by hamstring injuries this year, but won the 2011 event in 2:18:20.
Kebede, third at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, moved to the front of the lead pack after 30 kilometers and by the 35km mark he was out with Regassa and Lilesa, who was third at last year’s world championships.
Once Regassa slowed in the 23rd mile, it was a two-man show.
Both leaders ran under 2:05:00 for the first time in their careers, but 2010 Chicago runner-up Kebede pulled away from Lilesa in the last half mile for the victory.
Kenya’s Sammy Kitwara was fourth, with countryman Wesley Korir, last year’s Chicago runner-up and this year’s Boston Marathon champion, in fifth.