photo by PhotoRun.net
In the best weather in five years, the 2012 Bank of America Chicago marathon went back to it's more typical weather, when Steve Jones, Joan Benoit Samuelson, Khalid Khannouchi and Paula Radcliffe set records.
Atsede Baysa ran a one second personal best, in 2:22.03, one second seperating Baysa and Rita Jeptoo, who ran 2:22.04 and set her pb by one minute and 34 seconds! In third was Lucy Kabuu, whose debut was a second in Dubai in 2:19.34, running 2:22.41 here. And in fourth, Liliya Shobokhova, who had won three times in a row in Chicago, up to this year, ran a fine 2:22.59 here.
As Joan Benoit Samuelson, the 1984 Olympic gold medalist and long time commentator and observer of the sport noted, nine women were in the pack at halfway in 1:11.15. Maria Konovalova, third here in 2010, took the lead from seven to 20k, where Liliya Shobukhova started to test the field.
Shobukhova, who told the media later, " I just did not have the time between the Olympics and Chicago to properly prepare", threw in some short bursts, but she could not get any distance. Lucy Kabuu, Atsede Baya, Rita Jeptoo and Werknesh Kidane were running the show. Lucy Kabuu and Kidane hit the 25k in 1:24.26, with a pack of nine. Rita Jeptoo was three seconds back, with Shobukhova.
Lucy Kabuu ran the five kilometers from 25k to 30k in 16:48, with Fatuma Sado right there, Caroline Rotich, who came up from way back in the pack, and Rita Jeptoo. Four seconds back was Atsede Baysa, biding her time. 30k was hit, by the leaders in 1:41.15.
Lucy Kabuu ran 16:41 for the five kilometers between 30 and 35k. But the real speedster was Atsede Baysa, who ran 16:37 to move herself up with Kabuu, both hitting 35k in 1:57.57.
Then, the race got real exciting. Rita Jeptoo, Atsede Baysa and Lucy Kabuu had run the 5k from 35k to 40k in 16:47, with Caroline Rotich in fourth in 17:18. Liliya Shobukhova, who had fallen back to sixth, fought her way back into fourth by 40 kilometers.
Rita Jeptoo and Atsede Baysa just increased the pace once again, as they hit 40k in 2:14.45. The race for first was on. Lucy Kabuu, who had looked so good all along, started to fall back. Jeptoo and Baysa just surged and surged, changing the lead three times between mile 25 and the finish. With 400 meters to go, Rita Jeptoo took a strong surge and grabbed the lead, with Atsede Baysa on her shoulder.
With just over two hundred meters to go, Atsede Baysa took the lead, Rita Jeptoo right behind. The crowd was screaming, as no one really knew who would win! Could Rita Jepto call on her speed one more time? Could Atsede Baysa, who was looking back every few meters, hold off Jeptoo?
In the end, it was a near photo finish, where Atsede Baysa of Ethiopia won in a fine 2:22.03, with Rita Jeptoo of Kenya in second in 2:22.04 and Lucy Kabuu in third in 2:22.41. Liliya Shobukhova of Russia took fourth, with 2:22.59 and Caroline Rotich in fifth in 2:23.22.
Renee Metivier Baillee,
photo by PhotoRun.net
In eighth place, running the race of her life, was Renee Metivier Baillee, who ran 2:27.17, the third best debut by an American ever, and equal seventh best US women's performance. Glen Latimer, LDR for USATF, nominated her performance as one of the best of the entire marathon. " You are seeing the future of American women's distance running."
Dot McMahon ran a stellar 2:32.11, taking ninth and Stephanie Pezzullo, also of the US, put three Americans in the top ten, with her fine 2:32.42.