The 2014 Bank of America Chicago marathon, one of the big six World Marathon Majors, has been won by Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge in 2:04:11, his first World Marathon Majors win, 7 seconds off his personal best time. The other favorite, the fastest man in history at 5,000 and 10,000 meters, Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, ended the race in fourth place, with a time of 2:05:51 for his second marathon. The runner-up position went to Kenyan Sammy Kitwara with a time of 2:04:28. Dickson Chumba of Kenya was third in 2:04:32. The top American, Bobby Curtis, finished ninth overall with a 2-minute personal record of 2:11:20 in his World Marathon debut.
Kipchoge came into the race with the fastest time, 2:04:05, which he set in Berlin last year. Bekele, the other favorite, was hoping to better his PR of 2:05:04 and break the Chicago Marathon course record of 2:03:45.
At 21 miles the lead pack of Kipchoge, Kitwara and Chumba were pulling away. Kipchoge passed the 25-mile mark at 2:18:02, then made a hard move to break away from Kitwara and Chumba with a time of 14:35 for the last 5k. He passed mile 26 in 2:03:08, with the two followers nowhere in sight and went on to a decisive win.
American women made a strong showing in today’s race, with fifth and sixth-place finishes The women’s race was won by Kenya’s Rita Jeptoo, her fourth World Marathon Major title, in 2:24:35. Mare Dibaba of Ethiopia closed on Kenyan Florence Kiplagat at the end to take the runner-up position in 2:25:37. After appearing to have second place locked up, Kiplagat finished third in 2:25:57. Birhane Dibaba was fourth in 2:27:02, with American Amy Hastings right behind in fifth place in 2:27:03, tying her personal best. American Clara Santucci was sixth in 2:32:21.
Hastings had taken the lead in the race early on, followed by the chase pack that included Jeptoo, Mare and Birhane Dibaba, and Kiplagat. They caught her again at 8 miles, after passing the first 10k mark in 34:19. Kiplagat waas the women’s leader at 10 miles, at a 5:30 per mile pace. The women’s lead pack halfway split was 1:12:30, with Hastings right behind in 1:12:46. Jeptoo made a hard move away from pack at about 24 miles, which she passed in 2:12:51, with Kiplagat 3-4 seconds behind and Hastings now trailing by two minutes at 2:14:09. By the 25-mile split Kiplagat was a minute behind.
The women’s wheelchair race was won by Tatyana McFadden of the U.S. in 1:44:50. It was her fourth straight and fifth overall victory in Chicago. McFadden is the only wheelchair racer, male or female ever to win four World Marathon Majors in one year, which she did in 2013. The men’s wheelchair division was won by Joshua George of the U.S. in 1:32:12.
The perfect weather forecast for the race held true, with temperatures in the 40s at the start and low 50s at the finish,. The conditions were perfect for fast time and the Chicago course is known to be flat and fast, which draws a big crowd annually. 45,000 runners participated in today’s 37th annual Chicago Marathon, which started at 7:20 a.m. Chicago time. As the winners accepted their accolades, most of that mass of runners were still on the course, running for their own personal records and accomplishments.
Commentary by Beth A. Balen