CHICAGO (October 11, 2009) - The 32nd running of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon today witnessed 34,792 participants at the start and 33,419 official finishers, a men's course record, a new female champion, a three-time wheelchair champion and a sprint finish in the women's wheelchair competition.
With a chilly start line temperature of 33°F and calm, 4 mph winds coming out of the northwest, the men's and women's elite fields took off in drastically different fashion. The men shot out of the start on world record pace with 2008 Olympic gold medalist Sammy Wanjiru (KEN) following closely behind four pacers. Hanging off Wanjiru's shoulder until shortly after the 35K were fellow countrymen Vincent Kipruto (KEN) and Charles Munyeki (KEN). Just as Wanjiru picked up his cadence, Kipruto and Munyeki were chased down by Morocco's Abderrahim Goumri. Goumri held on to finish second and out kick Kipruto, 2:06:04 to 2:06:08, respectively.
The storyline of the day, however, belonged to 22 year-old Wanjiru. Rounding the final turn onto Columbus Drive, Wanjiru eclipsed Khalid Khannouchi's 1999 course record of 2:05:42 by one second to finish officially in 2:05:41. Wanjiru claimed the $75,000 prize purse for overall winner and took home an additional $100,000 for breaking the course record. Wanjiru's time is the fastest time recorded on American soil. At the age of 22 years 335 days, Wanjiru is the youngest runner with three World Marathon Major victories.
Unlike the blistering pace of the men's race, the women's race went out at a much slower pace with the women's field content to follow American Tera Moody through the first 10K. On a day ripe for the record books, the women's field ran well off Paula Radcliffe's 2002 course record of 2:17:18; it took Teyba Erkesso's (ETH) bold move shortly before the half to wake up the women's field. After Erkesso charged to the front, the women's pace dropped to sub 2:30.
While Erkesso demanded a race from the field, it was Russian Liliya
Shobukhova, running in just her second marathon, who took home first
place. Shobukhova finished in 2:25:56, with Germany's Irina Mikitenko
second in 2:26:31 and 2008 Bank of America Chicago Marathon champion
Lidiya Grigoryeva (RUS) third in 2:26:47. Erkesso hung on for fourth
while American record holder, Deena Kastor, finished sixth in 2:28:50.
The men's wheelchair competition welcomed Australia's Kurt Fearnley
back to the podium for the third time. Fearnley finished a little over
a minute outside of his course record in 1:29:09. On the women's side,
newcomer Tatyana McFadden (USA) beat two-time champ Amanda McGrory
(USA) in one of the closet wheelchair finishes in Chicago Marathon
history. The top five women finished within three seconds of each
other, with McFadden capturing the victory in 1:50:47.
In the debut Nike Northside/Southside Challenge, a high school
invitational held on the final 2.6 miles of the marathon race course,
Lincoln Way Central runner Kyle Counter beat a field of 71 competitors
to finish 52 seconds ahead of second place in 13:35. The women's
champion from Luther North, Stephanie Simpson, won in 16:01, 19 seconds
ahead of second place. Fifty seven high school girls competed in