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 degrees 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 outkick 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 today's race.
Bank of America Chicago Marathon
In its 32nd year and a member of the World Marathon Majors, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon annually attracts 45,000 runners including a world class elite field and 1.5 million spectators. As a result of its national and international draw, the iconic race assists in raising $10 million for a variety of charitable causes while generating an estimated $143 million economic impact to its host city. More information on the race is available at the event Web site, ChicagoMarathon.com.