CHICAGO, Oct 7 (Reuters) - Ethiopia's Tsegaye Kebede slashed almost a minute off the course record to win the Chicago Marathon on Sunday, leading an African sweep in the 35th running of the race.

Kebede stormed to victory in an unofficial time of two hours 04.38 seconds to shatter the previous record of 2:05.39 set by Kenya's Moses Mosop last year.

The first three men across the line all went under the old mark and all were from Ethiopia, ending Kenya's run of nine consecutive winners in the Windy City. Feyisa Lilesa was second in 2:04.52 while Tilahun Regassa was third in 2:05.27.

Atsede Baysa completed an Ethiopian double by winning the women's race in a thrilling sprint finish with Kenya's Rita Jeptoo.

Baysa crossed the line just inches ahead of Jeptoo with winning in an official time of 2:22.03, one second ahead of Jeptoo.

Kenya's Lucy Kabuu was third while Russia's Liliya Shobukhova was fourth after bidding for an unprecedented fourth straight victory in the race, one of the five World Marathon Majors.

The cool conditions were perfect for fast running as the elite runners led the massive field of around 45,000 entrants along the Chicago lakefront and through the city's neighbourhoods.

Kebede won the London Marathon two years ago and almost won Chicago as well but was run down in the last 400m by the late Samuel Wanjiru.

"I don't believe it," Kebede said in a televised interview. "This has been my goal, 2:04, so I just pushed and pushed and pushed." (Reporting by Julian Linden in New York; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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  • Chicago Marathon

    Runners start the 2012 Chicago Marathon Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. With 42-degree temperatures at the start, the conditions were good for a race marked by tragedy and mishap in recent years.(AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

  • Chicago Marathon

    Runners leave the starting line during the 2012 Chicago Marathon Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

  • Chicago Marathon

    Runners start the 2012 Chicago Marathon Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

  • Tsegaye Kebede

    Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia, crosses the finish line to win the 2012 Chicago Marathon Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

  • Tsegaye Kebede

    Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia, celebrates after winning the 2012 Chicago Marathon Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

  • Tatyana McFadden

    Tatyana McFadden crosses the finish line to win the women's wheelchair division of the 2012 Chicago Marathon Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

  • Josh Cassidy

    Josh Cassidy of Canada, crosses the finish line to win the wheelchair division of the 2012 Chicago Marathon Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

  • Atsede Baysa, Rita Jeptoo

    Atsede Baysa of Ethiopia right, edges out Kenya's Rita Jeptoo left, to win the 2012 Chicago Marathon Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

  • Tsegaye Kebede, Feyisa Lilesa

    Tsegaye Kebede back, celebrates with fellow Ethiopian Feyisa Lilesa (6), after Kebede won first place and Lilesa finished second in the 2012 Chicago Marathon Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

  • Tsegaye Kebede, Chicago Marathon

    Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia, celebrates after winning the 2012 Chicago Marathon Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

  • Chicago Marathon

    Runners start the 2012 Chicago Marathon Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. With 42-degree temperatures at the start, the conditions were good for a race marked by tragedy and mishap in recent years. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

  • Chicago Marathon

    Runners leave the starting line during the 2012 Chicago Marathon Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

  • Wesley Korir

    Wesley Korir from Kenya, responds to a question during a news conference of elite runners participating in the Chicago Marathon Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, in Chicago. The race will be run Sunday, Oct. 7. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

  • Liliya Shobukhova

    Liliya Shobukhova from Russia responds to a question during a news conference of elite runners participating in the Chicago Marathon Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, in Chicago. The race will be run Sunday, Oct. 7. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)