Women's Marathon: CHEPNGETICH SUFFERS FOR CHICAGO TITLE
Ruth Chepngetich scored a hard-earned victory at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon as she fended off the heat to outlast her American rivals.
The reigning world champion ran the first stanza of the race as though she had been fired out of a cannon, swiftly catching American male athlete Chris Derrick as she blasted her way to a time at halfway of 1:07:34.
It was a pace she paid for in the latter stages as her lead, at one point more than three minutes, shrank to 1:49 by the time runner-up Emma Bates crossed the line.
Bates upset the pre-race predictions of a new American record for her compatriot Sara Hall, the runner up in London in 2020, who had to settle for third on a day when the conditions were never going to place Deena Kastor's 2006 time in danger.
For Chepngetich, who also set a new half-marathon world record earlier this year, it was redemption of sorts following a disappointing DNF in the Olympics.
"To push alone is not easy," she said. "I was not leading to be faster like that. I just focused and I lead for myself."
In fact, her second 13.1 miles was over 13 minutes slower than her first, but it was enough to keep the hard-charging Bates at bay.
"I started seeing women ahead of me and that just spurred me along so much," said Bates.
"Maybe just like that boost of energy - and, also, just all the spectators. Having all those people lining the streets again, just really gave me all the energy to be able to press on and really pick up my legs faster and faster."
For Hall, her record ambitions will live to fight another day after finding the going tough in the latter part of her race.
"I thought that there was a chance they would go out really hard but I was hoping, similar to the London Marathon, they would come back, but Ruth - that was a really impressive run for her.
"I was hoping to maybe place a little higher but I'm really proud to get back on the podium in my next Abbott World Marathon Major so I'm thankful for that."
Men's Marathon: TURA TAKES CHICAGO CROWN
Seifu Tura turned back the challenge of Galen Rupp to win the 2021 Bank of America Chicago Marathon on a sticky Sunday in the Windy City.
Tura, the champion in Milan earlier this year in a personal best just outside 2:04, had the pedigree to take down the assembled field, but his best here previously had been sixth place in 2019.
An early burst by his fellow Ethiopian Shifera Tamru put 15 seconds between the leader and the following pack, but his early exuberance was doused by the time they reached the halfway point in 62:29.
Rupp had been keeping his own counsel behind the first half shenanigans and was able to wipe out the 11-second deficit he had allowed to appear, and was sitting comfortably in the bunch as they entered the final 10km.
Japan's Kengo Suzuki was the first to blink, departing the leaders at 35km, and it left Tura, Rupp and Kenya's Eric Kiptanui to battle for the order on the podium.
Tura's decisive strike came in the final mile with Rupp unable to reply.
"I just was determined to fight 'til the very end to do my best," said the new champion. "The weather was a little bit erratic. I was extremely concerned when they said the other day that it was going to be very hot, because I did not prepare for warm weather, but there was a breeze, and the first half was not too fast, so that helped me. I was able to do well."
For Rupp, though not the top spot he was hoping for, his second place was a victory of sorts following a long recovery from surgery and a deflating showing in the Olympic marathon race only two months ago.
"I think it's really just cemented in my mind how important health is and just being able to get in a lot of consistent training which, frankly, wasn't the case for me all the time the last couple of years," admitted the runner-up.
"I've really struggled, and it's certainly an emotional thing. I think the marathon in general is emotional for anybody that's run one and finished; so much work and effort goes into that, there's so many ups and downs in training, so many ups and downs within the race itself."
As the thousands of runners behind him crossed the line on Columbus Drive for the first time since 2019, not many would have argued with that sentiment.
Wheelchair Marathon: ROMANCHUK ROARS BACK IN CHICAGO
Daniel Romanchuk hit back in the battle for AbbottWMM Series XIII as he out-muscled Marcel Hug to win an epic Bank of America Chicago Marathon.
The pair were joined by Aaron Pike and Johnboy Smith for the first 35km before Hug hit the accelerator.
Only Romanchuk could stay with the Swiss veteran, and he proved to be the stronger as they took the penultimate turn to tackle the Mount Roosevelt gradient.
Romanchuk cranked his huge arms into gear and opened a gap on Hug as they battled up the slope.
As the 23-year-old rounded the final corner, he had ended Hug's challenge for a third straight Majors victory, and powered home to stay in first place on the Series XIII leaderboard.
Hug had not tasted defeat since the series restarted, having swept all before him in the Paralympics including the marathon gold medal. He looked imperious in his victories in Berlin and then London and closed the gap to seven points on Romanchuk going into today's contest.
Hug limited his losses today by taking the eight bonus points for the intermediate sprint section, leaving Romanchuk ahead by eight with two races remaining.
Both men will board flights to Boston tonight to face each other again in the morning, with Romanchuk's team scrambling successfully behind the scenes to get him a new plane ticket after his scheduled flight was cancelled.
"It's a case of just drink as much as I can, eat as much as I can and get there as fast as I can," said Romanchuk after crossing the line.
With the safety net of a spare chair waiting for him in Massachusetts with his father, Romanchuk will look to swing the momentum further back his way on a course he defeated Hug on in 2019.
His finish time of 1:29:07 was a new fastest time on Chicago's flat, fast route, but he knows tomorrow will bring a fresh set of challenges.
"No two races are ever alike," he said. "I always go in with a plan but know I may have to adapt midway through and think as it develops. I think with Marcel, he's an amazing racer and very fit right now."
It was a double American victory in the wheelchair races as Tatyana McFadden cruised to a win by over a minute in the women's race.
McFadden took full advantage of the absence of runaway Series XIII leader Manuela Schär who she had come second to in Berlin and third behind in London a week ago.
McFadden's victory was her ninth in Chicago and her 24th overall in the Abbott World Marathon Majors.
"This was my first marathon in 2009 and it lead me to an amazing career," said McFadden. "It's Major number 24 so now I'm waiting for that golden ticket 25.
"I've been placing in the top three, so finally a win. Now I'm doing that crazy turnaround to run Boston. Fifty-two miles in 24 hours. I'm crazy but I'm up for a challenge."