Chumba, Kiplagat win Chicago Marathon

Chicago, October 12

Dickson Chumba captured the Chicago Marathon men’s title on Sunday, leading the second straight Kenyan podium sweep by finishing ahead of Sammy Kitwara and Sammy Ndungu.

Chumba crossed the finish line in 2hr 09min 25sec to beat Kitwara (2:09.50) in a race that featured slower times than usual after organizers decided not to include pace-setters. Ndungu (2:10.06) claimed the bronze, outsprinting Ethiopia’s Girmay Birhanu Gebru (2:10.07) down the stretch for the final podium position.

Kenya’s Florence Kiplagat won women’s title in a time of 2:23.33 as athletes from the East African distance running powerhouses dominated both elite fields.

Chumba’s time was five minutes slower than Eliud Kipchoge’s winning time last year at 2:04.11. The world record stands at 2:02.57. Chumba said he hopes to return in 2016 to defend his title. “Maybe next year to win,” he said. “I need to run maybe a faster time,” he added.

Rita Jeptoo, a three-time women’s winner of the Boston Marathon and two-time winner in Chicago, is the biggest name in Kenyan athletics to be swept up in the doping scandal that has cast a shadow over the distance running community.

Chumba took command of the race in the 23rd mile, pulling away from Kitwara and Abera Kuma to post a 25 second victory. It was also the third sweep of the podium by the Kenyans in the last five years. Despite a slower time, Chumba, who finished third in Chicago last year in 2:04.32, improved his podium spot by two spots.

He has been one of the most consistent runners over the last year, winning the Tokyo Marathon in 2014 and finishing third there earlier this year. In his last unpaced major marathon in 2013 he finished seventh (2:14.08) in Boston.

Pre-race favourite Kitwara had been hoping to finally reach the top of the podium after finishing fourth in 2012, third in 2013 and second in 2014. Luke Puskedra was the top American finisher in fifth place with a personal best 2:10.24.

Puskedra was ready to give up the sport after a disappointing time of 2:28.54 in his marathon debut in New York last year. He beat his personal best time, which he set in June, by more than five minutes.

Kiplagat finished third here in 2014 but was awarded second place after Jeptoo was stripped of her title because of doping. Kiplagat still had enough energy after completing the 26.2 mile course. Ethiopia’s Yebrgual Melese finished second in 2:23.43 while Birhane Dibaba of Ethiopia placed third in 2:24.24.