Ethiopia’s Tura, Kenya’s Chepngetich victory in the Chicago Marathon

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Washington (AFP)

The Ethiopian Seifu Tura won the men’s title and the reigning world champion Ruth Chepngetich from Kenya took the women’s crown on her US debut on Sunday at the 43rd Chicago Marathon.

The 42.2-mile event was canceled by Covid-19 last year, but runners were back after 728 days on a flat course through the streets of the Windy City in warm and breezy conditions.

Tura, who had not qualified for the Olympic squad in his home country in Tokyo, left too late and took the win in 2 hours 6 minutes 12 seconds ahead of the American Galen Rupp, 23 seconds behind second place, and the Kenyan Eric Kiptanui in 2:06:51 in third place.

Tura, who finished sixth in Chicago in 2019, won the Shanghai and Milan titles in 2018 and finished fourth in Milan in May in 2:04:29.

“I’m very happy to have won here in Chicago,” said Tura. “I’ve been preparing for this race for more than three months. Without the heat, I was hoping to set a personal best.”

Chepngetich took the lead from the start and won for the fifth time in six marathon starts in 2:22:31. He defeated the American runner-up Emma Bates with 1:49 and the American Sara Hall in 2:27:19.

“The race was good, but not easy,” said Chepngetich. “I pushed alone from the 10 km. The weather was nice. I believed in myself and was lucky and I pushed myself.”

At kilometer 10, Chepngetich had extended her lead over the Kenyan Vivian Kiplagat, who was fifth, to 27 seconds without having another within two minutes.

After 40 minutes she passed a male pacemaker, reached the middle in 1:07:34, 76 seconds ahead of Kiplagat and was comfortably ahead until the end.

“I just pushed myself,” said Chepngetich. “I didn’t look back. I just pushed myself to the finish line. I felt strong, but I could feel it in my legs.”

Chepngetich, 27, set a half marathon world record of 1:04:02 in Istanbul in April and her best marathon time of 2:17:08 in Dubai in 2019 makes her the fourth fastest woman in history over the distance.

Spectators lined the streets of the city center when a top group of eleven opened a fast gap in the men’s race and reduced it to seven after 10 km.

The seven were halfway together at 1:02:29 and stayed tight until just before mile 24 when Tura, Rupp and Kiptanui increased the pace.

Tura stormed again from the 25th mile to fill a gap with his closest rivals and Rupp was unable to overtake him on the track.

“In the end I just didn’t quite have it,” said Rupp. “He ran an incredible race.”

The 2017 Chicago champion Rupp, who finished third at the Rio Olympics and eighth at the Tokyo Olympics, called the result “a step in the right direction”.

Daniel Romanchuk won his third consecutive Chicago Marathon men’s wheelchair crown, while his American Tatyana McFadden took the women’s title for the ninth time.

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