NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 8- Abel Kirui and Florence Kiplagat failed to defend their Chicago marathon titles on Sunday as homeboy Galen Rupp became the first American in 15 years to win the title, finishing in 2:09:20 ahead of Kirui while Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba won the women’s race.
Rupp, the Rio Olympics bronze medalist broke away from Kirui in the final 10kilometres of the race and ensured he finished off the year on high note with a personal best time having finished second at the Boston Marathon earlier on in the year.
“It is such a special thing for me winning in Chicago because this City is special to me; my dad was born here and I have very good memories of this place. I feel that I have come second so many times before and winning feels great,” Rupp, still excited from his achievement said after the race.
Also, this was only the second time since 2003 that a Kenyan has failed to win in Chicago. The last man to break the Kenyan dominance was Ethiopian Tsegaye Kebede in 2012.
The first half proved an uneventful affair, with USA’s Aaron Braun leading through 10 kilometres in a controlled 31:24 with 25 athletes grouped together behind.
At halfway, reached in 1:05:49, that had been whittled only slightly to 22, the main players all buried in the pack and playing a waiting game.
At 30 kilometres, reached in 1:33:21, defending champion Kirui became more prominent at the front of the race, with home hope Galen Rupp also taking closer order on his shoulder and previous leader Chris Derrick – who was making his debut – slowly starting to feel the hurt and falling behind.
Sustained pressure from Kirui reduced the leading group to five at 35 kilometres, but the decisive move of the race didn’t occur until the last six kilometres.
Rupp, running in the fourth marathon of his career, injected a big surge, covering the 38th kilometre in 2:47 which drew him swiftly clear of Kirui. From there, the 31-year-old only lengthened his advantage with each passing minute, and his waiting strategy began to pay dividends.
Rupp reached the finish in a PB of 2:09:20, having covered the second half in 1:03:21. Kirui came home second in 2:09:48, with his Kenyan compatriot Bernard Kipyego third in 2:10:23.
In the women’s race, defending champion Kiplagat could not match the high tempo set up by five-time World Champion on the track Dibaba who opened up the field just after 30 minutes of racing.
Dibaba in her debut in Chicago clocked 2:18:30 while Kenyan Birid Kosgei who braved the high tempo throughout sticking to the Ethiopian came in second, one minute 53 seconds later.
“I ran without a pacemaker and It was hard to break a record, but I am pleased with the race and the result today. This was very special for me, this was my third marathon and I am pleased because I have learnt a lot,” she said after the race.
Dibaba stamped her authority on the race from the outset, moving to the front from the gun and towing a cluster of four athletes through the opening 10 kilometres in 32:28.
At halfway, reached in 1:08:48, Dibaba still had the same quartet on her tail – Kenyans Kosgei, Florence Kiplagat, Valentine Kipketer and USA’s Jordan Hasay – but it was clear that her patience was running thin, the Ethiopian zig-zagging around the road in a bid to prevent her rivals drafting in her slipstream.
By the time she reached 30 kilometres in 1:38:29, Dibaba had just Kosgei for company, but it was clear she was the stronger of the two and shortly afterwards she began to open an advantage, one that continued to grow with each passing mile.
When she rounded the turn into the home straight, Dibaba could enjoy a long, luxurious run to the finish in what was her third career marathon, and she hit the line to take her first win over the distance in 2:18:31 – short of her personal best of 2:17:56 but an outstanding performance in conditions that were far warmer than ideal.
Dibaba, a three-time Olympic gold medallist on the track, said afterwards that the marathon will be her sole focus for the rest of her career. “I’m not going back to the track,” she said. “I’ll be targeting the world record in the marathon.”
Kosgei held on well for second in 2:20:22, with 26-year-old Jordan Hasay marking herself out as a potential star in third, running a big personal best of 2:20:57 in the second career marathon of her career to move to second on the US all-time list.
Kiplagat, the defending champion, had been on course for a sub-2:20 finish, but she withdrew shortly after 25 kilometres.
1 Galen Rupp (USA) 2:09:20
2 Abel Kirui (KEN) 2:09:48
3 Bernard Kipyego (KEN) 2:10:23
4 Sisay Lemma (ETH) 2:11:01
5 Stephen Sambu (KEN) 2:11:07
6 Kohei Matsumura (JPN) 2:11:46
7 Ezekiel Chebii (KEN) 2:12:12
8 Zersenay Tadese (ERI) 2:12:19
9 Chris Derrick (USA) 2:12:50
10 Michael Shelley (AUS) 2:12:52
1 Tirunesh Dibaba (ETH) 2:18:31
2 Brigid Kosgei (KEN) 2:20:22
3 Jordan Hasay (USA) 2:20:57
4 Madai Perez (MEX) 2:24:44
5 Valentine Kipketer (KEN) 2:28:05
6 Lisa Weightman (AUS) 2:28:45
7 Maegan Krifchin (USA) 2:33:46
8 Alia Grey (USA) 2:34:25
9 Taylor Ward (USA) 2:35:27
10 Becky Wade (USA) 2:35:46
-Additional reporting from IAAF-