Chicago Marathon 2011: Race Ends In Record Victories (PHOTOS, VIDEO)
CHICAGO -- Kenya's Moses Mosop set a course record in winning the Chicago Marathon on Sunday and Russia's Liliya Shobukhova claimed the women's title to become the race's first three-peat champion.
Both runners had no trouble pulling away from the pack on a warm morning to claim their $100,000 prizes. Mosop earned another $50,000 for finishing in 2 hours, 5 minutes, 37 seconds and breaking Sammy Wanjiru's course mark by 4 seconds.
"My shape was bad. I was worried about my leg," Mosop said.
That didn't prevent a record performance.
He easily beat countrymen Wesley Korir (2:06:15) and Bernard Kipyego (2:06:29), with Ethiopia's Bekana Daba (2:07:59) and American Ryan Hall (2:08:04) rounding out the top five.
Shobukhova also made it look easy in becoming the first runner – male or female – to win three straight titles in Chicago, clocking in at 2:18:20. Paula Radcliffe of England is the only woman to have run a faster marathon, holding the three fastest times, including a 2:17:18 at Chicago in 2002.
Shobukhova outclassed the field on Sunday, with Ejegayehu Dibaba of Ethiopia taking second in 2:22:09 and Japan's Kayoko Fukushi third in 2:24:38. The Russian also probably secured an Olympic berth. Her country's federation will select its team based on the two fastest times posted between Sept. 1 and the end of the year.
"I'm overwhelmed right now," said Shobukhova, who earned an additional $40,000 for finishing in under 2:20. "You're happy. You're excited. You're shocked."
Mosop, meanwhile, was spectacular again after a string of impressive performances, raising his arms and pointing toward the crowd as he crossed the finish line at Grant Park.
He ran the second-fastest 26.2 miles in history in his debut at the Boston Marathon this year, but finished behind fellow Kenyan Geoffrey Mutai in 2:03:06 with a tailwind on a course that doesn't meet specifications for world records. He then set the world mark in the 30,000 meters at the Prefontaine Classic in June, but his Achilles issue limited his training during the summer.
Even so, Mosop was hoping to break the course record of 2:05:41 set by the late Wanjiru in 2009, when he won the first of two straight Chicago Marathons. He did just that despite estimating that he was only about 85 percent.
If he was completely healed?
"Maybe I'd run in 2:02," he said.
That's something no one has done, but it's hard to argue with Mosop the way he's been performing.
Nicknamed "Big Engine" for his powerful technique, Mosop didn't flinch when Korir made a move to break from a five-man pack and led through 18 miles. Instead, he came on like an express train and left everyone else behind.
"I knew that if I had to make a move, now was the time to make a move," Korir said. "I saw an opportunity, and I was like, `You know what? I'm going to go.'"
Mosop, however, went with him, and then, in a flash, he was the one taking control.
"I wasn't surprised when he came back," Korir said. "At that moment, I was like, `OK, I'm going to try to stay behind him,' but he kept going."
There were 45,000 runners registered and 37,400 made the start on a day that seemed made for hanging out by the lake if not running 26.2 miles.
The race-time temperature was 64 degrees and expected to reach about 80 during the day, the fourth time in five years the weather was unusually warm, but race officials were confident they had the proper procedures in place to prevent and handle any emergencies.
A Michigan man with a heart condition died four years ago, but since then, organizers have improved communication between various agencies and the runners. They've also added more water distribution points and medical aid stations.
"Today was humid," Mosop said. "I enjoyed the course very much."