ATHLETICS: Farah and Kosgei run away from Chicago Marathon fields

Two close races turned into runaways as Britain’s Mo Farah and Kenyan Brigid Kosgei won big victories in Sunday’s 41st Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

Farah was racing a field in which seven men had better lifetime bests than his 2:06:21, but he raced in the rainy and cool conditions in Chicago just as he did in his brilliant track career: hanging with the pack until it was winning time.

On Sunday, the lead group of 14 passed the halfway points in 1:03:04 and seven were still together at the 35 km mark, with Farah cruising behind Kenneth Kipkemoi (KEN), Mosinet Geremew (ETH) and 2017 World Champion Geoffrey Kirui (KEN).

The field began to thin quickly after that point, with American Galen Rupp losing contact soon after, then Kirui and then Kipkemoi and Japan’s Suguru Osako. That left Geremew, who won in Dubai early in the year in 2:04;00 running with Farah at 40 km, but refusing to take the lead.

They ran together for a while, but with about a mile (~1.5 km) to go, Farah simply turned on the jets – just as would do in a track race in the last 600 m – and sprinted away for a clear win by 14 seconds in a lifetime best of 2:05:11, the no. 8 time in Chicago Marathon history and the fastest since 2014.

It was Farah’s third marathon ever and his third personal best; the 2:05:11 time makes him the no. 10 performer in 2018 thus far. It’s also a European record for the distance, replacing the 2:05:48 by Sondre Moen (NOR) from 2017. “The conditions weren’t great and everyone was thinking about position rather than time, but towards the end we picked it up,” Farah said in his post-race interview on Chicago television. “I felt good towards the end of the race. At the beginning I felt a bit sluggish but overall I’m very happy with it.” He said he wasn’t sure about his next race, but would consider whether to focus on the World Championships in Doha – the midnight marathon – in 2019.

Geremew was second in 2:05:48 and Osako came in third with a new Japanese record of 2:05:50, edging Yuki Shitara’s 2:06:11 from the Tokyo Marathon last February. The IAAF reported that the record earned Osako an astonishing 100 million yen (~$879,350) bonus!

Rupp was fifth in 2:06:21, his second-fastest marathon ever.

The women’s race had Kosgei, second in Chicago in Chicago in 2017, in a pack with Roza Dereje (ETH), Birhane Dibaba (ETH), Shure Demise (ETH) and 2015-16 champ Florence Kiplagat (KEN) at the halfway mark, but she broke away with vigor after the 30 km mark and no one could follow. By 35 km, Kosgei had settled the issue and 45 seconds ahead of Dereje and cruised home in a sensational 2:18:35.

How good is that? It’s no. 4 on the year list, no. 7 on the all-time performers list and the 10th fastest women’s marathon ever run! And if you were wondering, it’s not a Chicago Marathon record as Paula Radcliffe (GBR) ran 2:1718 there in 2002.

Beyond running a fabulous time, mark Kosgei down as a competitor who is not to be messed with. She’s now run nine career marathons and finished first (5) or second (3) eight times!

Dereje finished second in 2:21:18. Among the other finishers were American Gwen Jorgensen – the 2016 Triathlon champ in Rio – who improved her lifetime best to 2:36:23, and 1984 Olympic champ Joan Benoit Samuelson, who braved the conditions to finish in 3:12:13. She was trying to break the age-60 record of 3:01:30 and run under three hours.

The prize money for this World Marathon Majors race was substantial, with $100,000-75,000-50,000-30,000-25,000 available to the first five finishers and $15,000-12,000-10,000-5,000-4,000 on down to $500 for the top ten American finishers in each gender. The total prize purse was an impressive $803,500. Summaries:

World Marathon Majors/Bank of America Chicago Marathon
Chicago, Illinois (USA) ~ 7 October 2018
(Full results here)

Men: 1. Mo Farah (GBR), 2:05:11; 2. Mosinet Geremew (ETH), 2:05:24; 3. Suguru Osako (JPN), 2:05:50; 4. Kenneth Kipkemoi (KEN), 2:05:57; 5. Galen Rupp (USA), 2:06:21; 6. Geoffrey Kirui (KEN), 2:06:45; 7. Abel Kirui (KEN), 2:07:52; 8. Taku Fujimoto (JPN), 2:07:57; 9. Bedan Karoki (KEN), 2:07:59; 10. Birhanu Legese (ETH), 2:08:41.

Women: 1. Brigid Kosgei (KEN), 2:18:35; 2. Roza Dereje (ETH), 2:21:18; 3. Shure Demise (ETH), 2:22:15; 4. Florence Kiplagat (KEN), 2:26:08; 5. Veronicah Nyaruai (KEN), 2:31:34; 6. Sarah Crouch (USA), 2:32:37; 7. Taylor Ward (USA), 2:32:42; 8. Kane Landau (USA), 2:33:24; 9. Melanie Myrand (CAN), 2:34:08; 10. Marci Klimek (USA), 2:34:53.