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Kimetto cracks course record

Dennis Kimetto

Dennis Kimetto – 2:03:45

CHICAGO – In today’s 2013 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, Kenyan athletes dominated the men’s and women’s races with historic performances, leading the way for the event record 39,115 runners who crossed the sun-splashed finish line in Grant Park under ideal weather conditions.

Kenya’s Dennis Kimetto smashed the men’s course record with a 2:03:45 performance, taking 53 seconds off the previous mark set last year. In the women’s competition, Kenya’s Rita Jeptoo cracked the 2:20 barrier with a winning time of 2:19:57, the fastest women’s marathon time in the world this year. In the elite wheelchair competition, Tatyana McFadden of the United States won her third straight Chicago Marathon in a course record time of 1:42:35, taking down the previous mark set in 1992. South Africa’s Ernst Van Dyk won a sprint finish in the men’s wheelchair race to claim his first Chicago title.

“It was an incredible day at the 2013 Bank of America Chicago Marathon-one where the results from the course reflected the hard work and determination that was put in by the staff, the volunteers and our City of Chicago partners to make the event possible,” said Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski. “I asked our elite athletes to be champions today-to show the strength of the running community-and all four of our race winners delivered in a big way. Congratulations to the more than 39,000 champions who reached the finish line in today’s historic event.”

The men’s race was a world record chase from the start with a 29:20 opening 10K. At the halfway point in 1:01:52, 2011 Chicago Marathon champion Moses Mosop of Kenya was heading the charge with the lead group still a dozen strong. But the pack was whittled down to four when Kimetto and fellow Kenyans Emmanuel Mutai, Sammy Kitwara and Micah Kogo split 14:33 from 30K to 35K. Heading up the Roosevelt Road overpass, it was still a two-way battle between Kimetto and Mutai, with Kimetto grinding away for a seven-second advantage over Mutai at the finish line. Both athletes registered personal best performances, becoming the fourth and fifth fastest marathon performers of all-time. It was also the first time in history that two athletes broke 2:04 in the same race (on a record-eligible course). Michigan native Dathan Ritzenhein was the top U.S. finisher, placing fifth in 2:09:45, the second fastest performance of his career and his best finish at a Major marathon.

The lead pack of eight women traveled through the half in a relatively relaxed 1:11:15, but things started to heat up by 25K, when Kenyans Rita Jeptoo and Jemima Sumgong began to separate themselves from the field, leaving defending champion Atsede Baysa of Ethiopia in their wake. With each 5K growing progressively faster from 25K on, it was Jeptoo’s 15:57 split from 35K to 40K that sealed her victory and put her in position to break the 2:20 barrier for the first time in her career. Her 2:19:57 ranks as the fifth fastest performance in Chicago Marathon history and she’s the first Kenyan woman to break the finish tape on Columbus Drive since Catherine Ndereba in 2001. Clara Santucci, of Dilliner, Pa., was the top American, finishing ninth in 2:31:39.

In the wheelchair division, defending women’s champion Tatyana McFadden of Champaign, Ill., shattered the long-standing Chicago Marathon women’s course record with a personal best 1:42:35 performance. It was her third consecutive victory in Chicago and fourth in the last five years. With her win, she moves on to next month’s ING New York City Marathon aiming to become the first athlete to win four Major marathons in the same year. She was followed closely across the finish line by first-time Chicago competitor Manuela Schaer of Switzerland (1:42:38) and her University of Illinois teammate Amanda McGrory of the United States (1:42:55). All three athletes were faster than the previous course mark of 1:44:29 set by Ann Walters in 1992.

The men’s wheelchair race came down to a thrilling sprint finish with South Africa’s Ernst Van Dyk speeding across the finish line first in 1:30:37, and runner-up Kurt Fearnley of Australia and third-place finisher Joshua George of the United States less than a second behind, both clocking 1:30:38. For Van Dyk, the most decorated athlete in Boston Marathon history, it was his first victory in Chicago.

The fifth annual Nike Northside/Southside Challenge again featured local high school athletes competing in a cross country race covering the final 2.62 miles of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon course.  In the boys’ race, Graham Brown of Palatine High School finished first in 12:40. The girls’ race featured Kathryn Adelman, of Geneva High School, winning in 15:20.