By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2022 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved
(09-Oct) — Blasting away from the starting line in Grant Park with opening miles of 4:47 and 4:56, Kenya’s Ruth Chepngetich tried to smash Brigid Kosgei’s World Athletics marathon record of 2:14:04 at this morning’s 44th Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Although her pace would slow in the second half, the 2019 world marathon champion came within 14 seconds of Kosgei’s mark –also set in Chicago in 2019– clocking 2:14:18, the second-fastest time in history. She successfully defended her 2021 title and won $75,000 in prize money in addition to her undisclosed appearance fee and any personal bonuses her management negotiated with race organizers.
“I am happy because I have won the race,” an Chepngetich said in her post-race broadcast interview. “I defended my title. I’m happy so much.”
Chepngetich ran all of today’s race in uncharted territory. With one male pacemaker for company, Geoffrey Pyego of Kenya, she burned through the opening 10-K in 30:40 (faster than Shalane Flanagan’s American record of 30:52) ten miles in 49:48 (faster than the standing world best) and halfway in 1:05:44 (on pace for a 2:11:30 finish). The chilly morning, 44F/7C, and Chicago’s flat course were definitely combining to work in her favor.
“You really can’t get better weather conditions than this,” commented USA marathon record holder Keira D’Amato who was commentating on today’s broadcast.
But little by little, Chepngetich’s pace started to slow. By the 30-K mark her predicted finish had slipped to 2:12:14, and by 40-K it was 2:14:00, right on the cusp of the record. Unfortunately for the petite Kenyan, the course’s only significant uphill came with about 400 meters to go. Although her form still looked crisp, but by the time she crested that hill and turned right for the final 200 meters to the finish she had lost precious seconds. The record would have to wait for another day. She ran the second half in 1:08:34, nearly three minutes slower than the first.
“I wanted to break the world record, but I missed by some seconds,” she said. She continued: “Next year, I’m ready to come back again.”
Behind her, and mostly off-camera, American Emily Sisson broke D’Amato’s North American record by running a perfectly-executed race. Sticking with the race plan coach Ray Treacy had given her, Sisson split halfway in 1:09:26 then came back in a slightly faster 1:09:03 to take second place in 2:18:29. Her time today was 43 seconds faster than D’Amato’s record of 2:19:12 set in Houston last January.
“It’s amazing,” Sisson said in her post-race broadcast interview standing alongside D’Amato, Deena Kastor and Joan Samuelson, the three women who held the North American record before her. “The women standing here today, they’ve all accomplished so much. To be amongst them is an incredible honor.”
D’Amato, who watched the women’s race from a motorcycle on the course, was generous in her praise after having her 10 month-old record broken.
“I was pretty emotional and just feeling… really proud of Emily today, and just being part of that legacy to keep moving that bar forward for American women,” D’Amato said.
Rounding out the top-5 were Kenya’s Vivian Jerono Kiplagat (2:20:52), and Ethiopia’s Ruti Aga (2:21:41) and Waganesh Mekasha Amare (2:23:41). Virginia school teacher Susanna Sullivan was sixth in 2:25:14 (a personal best) and Colorado realtor Sara Vaughn was seventh in 2:26:23 (also a personal best).
Chepngetich’s performance overshadowed Benson Kipruto’s excellent tactical race on the men’s side where he surged away from defending champion Seifu Tura of Ethiopia and Kenyan compatriot John Korir between 35 and 40 kilometers to win going away in 2:04:24, a personal best. Kipruto, 31, continued his streak of podium finishes in important marathons after winning Boston and Prague in 2021 and finishing third in Boston this year.
“I’m so happy for today’s race,” Kipruto said. “Two things: a win and a personal best. So, I am so happy.”
Tura was able to stay close and finished a clear second in 2:04:49. Korir, the younger brother of 2012 Boston Marathon Champion Wesley Korir, ran a big personal best of 2:05:01 in third place (previous best 2:09:08). Bernard Koech of Kenya (2:07:15) and Shifera Tamru Aredo of Ethiopia (2:07:53) rounded out the top-5.
Back in seventh place, American Conner Mantz made a very successful marathon debut. The two-time NCAA cross country champion for Brigham Young University clocked 2:08:16 (halves of 1:03:45 and 1:04:31) and was the top American. He gets married in just six days.
“It was a lot of fun early on and then after that it started to get really difficult, to be honest,” Mantz told NBC 5 Chicago. “I was really grateful to be out there with so many great competitors.”
Zach Panning in 11th place (2:09:28) and Matt McDonald in 12th place (2:09:49) were the next two Americans. Both men set personal bests.
In the professional wheelchair competition, Switzerland’s Marcel Hüg had an incredible day, setting a new course record of 1:25:20. He won by an improbable eight minutes over three-time champion Daniel Romanchuk. Susannah Scaroni got her first-ever marathon victory, winning the women’s race in 1:45:48.
“It feels like such an honor,” said Scaroni, who was clearly moved by the significance of her victory. “Now I feel like I get to give back.”
– – – – – – –
The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is part of the Abbott World Marathon Majors. The current series concludes at the TCS New York City Marathon on Sunday, November 6.
PHOTO: The winners of the 2022 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, Benson Kipruto and Ruth Chepngetich of Kenya (© 2022 Bank of America Chicago Marathon/Kevin Morris; used with permission)