2011 Bank of America Chicago Marathon: Liliya Shobukhova Three Peats, Sets Russian Record of 2:18:20, Second Best EVER! by Larry Eder


Shobukhova_Liliya1a -Chicago10.JPG
Liliya Shobukhova, 2010 Bank of America Chicago Marathon,
photo by PhotoRun.net

Liliya Shobukhova was quite confident in her pre race discussions. Her pre-race training went very well. She had raced back in June at the NYRR Mini, and then it was, all training for the 2011 B of A Chicago Marathon. Through her translater, she predicted a sub 2:20, actually a sub 2:19, and a selection on the Russian Federation team. Liliya did those and more today. Running from the front the whole way, Shobukhova wore down the debut marathon Ejegayehu Dibaba, the eldest of the three Dibaba sisters, and the Japanese record holder at 5,000m and 10,000m, Kayoko Fukushi, running in only her second marathon.

Shobukhova_Liliya-NYmini11.JPGLiliya Shobukhova, 2011 NYRR Mini, photo by PhotoRun.net

Liliya Shobukhova could have sat back and virtually jogged today, but she did not, and neither did her competitors. The elite women's race was a great race, and here is how I saw it:

Frank Shorter, the two-time U.S. Olympic medalist in the marathon once told assembled media that if one wanted to be successful at the marathon distance, one had to the miles of a marathoner and then race and train like one was a two-miler.

Meet Liliya Shobukhova, who runs the miles of a marathoner, with the leg speed of a middle distance runner.

Shobukhova_LIliya1-Euros10.jpgLiliya Shobukhova, 2010 European Champs, photo by PhotoRun.net

Meet Liliya Shobukhova. The former European record holder for 5,000 meters, Shobukhova has wheels. A world class runner over 5,000m and 10,000 meters, Shobukhova has developed her craft as a marathoner over the past three years. Now, in her sixth marathon, Liliya Shobukhova has won four of her six marathons!

With a 5,000m personal best of 14:23.75 (2008), 10,000m best of 30:29.36, Shobukhova has gone, in three short years from a 2:24:24 marathoner (third, London 2009), to her brilliant Russian Federation record today of 2:18:20, her, third national record at the distance. " I am humbled by my run today. I do not know what to say," noted Shobukhova afterwards.

Shobukhova humbled the women's elite field. And the race was made much harder by Shobukhova's dogges pursuit, in very warm conditions (55 at start, 70 by 9 am) of her stated goal of a sub 2:19 time. " My training has gone very well. I am ready to race, " Shobukhova said, through a translator as she smiled at the interviewer, with a confidence that she had not shown before.

The race went out in 16:19 for 5k, with Ejegeyhu Dibaba, 2004 Athens bronze medalist at the 10,000 meters, running right next to Liliya Shobukhova. Kayoko Fukushi of Japan, the national record holder at 5,000m and 10,000m had run only one other marathon, where she blazed for 30k and collapsed on the track four times, doing her interpretation of 1908 Olympic marathoner, Doriando Pietri. While Fukushi collapsed four times, she did finish her first marathon in 2:40. Fukushi intended to run much faster here.

Shobukhova, Dibaba and Fukushi hit 5k in 16:19, 10k in 32:46 and 15k in 49:19. At 20k, Fukushi had some stomach distress, and Shobukhova and Dibaba continued on, hitting 65:48 and the half marathon point in 1:09.25. Fukushi did get back on the course, running hard, but also dealing with some stomach issues for the rest of the race. (She finished third in a fine 2:24:38. Unlike the other runners, Fukushi does not have a definite pick for the Japanese marathon team, as she must run Japanese Trial races).

Shobukhova_Liliya1a -Chicago10.JPGLiliya Shobukhova, 2010 Bank of America Chicago,
photo by PhotoRun.net

If one watched Liliya Shobukhova, one sees a clearly focused and efficient practioner of the marathon racing arts. The women runs like a darn metronome. Hitting 25k in 1:22.08, Dibaba by her side, and then Liliya Shobukhova started to turn in the screws.

Gently pushing, running a 16:15 5k, Liliya Shobukhova broke the race wide open as Ejaegayehu Dibaba learnt the lessons that a first marathon gives, finishing in a superb 2:22:09, the third best women's debut ever, and, equipped with lots of stories to tell her two sisters about respecting the distance.

Liliya Shobukhova, now that she had the race, began a very tough pursuit of a fast time, and the arduous job of impressing the Russian selectors.

Shobukhova hit the 30k in 1:38:23, fifty-six seconds ahead of Dibaba. Liliya did not stop there. With all of Russia hoping, Liliya Shobukhova swept through 35k in 1:54:59, extending her lead to one minute, fifty-seven seconds. By the time Liliya Shobukhova hit 40k in 2:11:28, the Russian national record holder had three minutes and one second for her lead--no one could touch her.

Shobukhova_Liliya1d -Chicago10.JPGLiliya Shobukhova, 2010 B of A Chicago, photo by PhotoRun.net

The last 2.2 kilometers was run swiftly, as Liliya Shobukhova finished her presentation to the Russian Federation, win not only a victory at the 2011 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, but also the first three peet victory at Chicago, a Russian National record (yawn), and most importantly, only one Paula Radcliffe is faster than Liliya Shobukhova.

" There is snow at my home now, so I am going to Miami, where, even with a tropical storm, it is quite warm. I will take some time off, then I will begin my preparations for London 2012."

Liliya Shobukhova may have had the largest payday in women's marathoning today. Consider this, she cemented her win, for the second time of the World Marathon Majors and the win at the 2011 Bank of America Chicago marathon suggests that perhaps, she could purchase a small warm town in Florida with her earnings.

" I hoped for the win in Chicago and the record, and now the selection for London 2012. I have to think about how many things happened to day. I am humbled."
  And so, are we, the sports fan.

Consider this, gentle readers. Liliya Shobukhova has now become the Sergei Bubka of women's marathoning in Russia, with three federation records. Her genius over the distance has allowed her to run, even in the warmth of Chicago, for a goal only a handful of women marathoners can dream of--a sub 2:20 marathon. Now, she can focus on a medal run for London...

Liliya Shobukhova, 2010 Virgin London Marathon, photo by PhotoRun.net

Women's Results:

1. Liliya Shobukhova, Russia, 2:18:20 (#2 time EVER, Russian National record)
2. Ejegayehu Dibaba, Ethiopia, 2:22.09 (#3 debut EVER)
3. Kayokoa Fukushi, Japan, 2:24:38
4. Belainesh Zemedku Gebre, Ethiopia, 2:26:17
5. Christelle Daunay, France, 2:26:41
6. Claire Hallissey, Great Britain, 2:29:27
7. Yue Chao, China, 2:32:57
8. Askale Tafa, Ethiopia, 2:33:35
9. Cruz Nonata da Silva, Brazil, 2:35:35
10. Jeannette Faber, USA, 2:36:58

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