Chicago Marathon Diary: Dennis Kimetto wins in CR of 2:03.45, by Larry Eder

The most amazing fact to me is that Dennis Kimetto has only run for the last four years. Geoffrey Mutai found him in a shopping centre and asked him to join his group. Kimetto just ran the fourth fastest legal marathon time in our sports' history. 

Someone on twitter said it best: "Dennis KImetto, Congrats on your Chicago win! Let's trade genes! "

kimetto wins chicago.jpg

Carey Pinkowski, on Friday, noted the following:

" I have always felt competition is important. I think that we have nice racing against each other, I think that is equally important as a fast time. I ahve always felt that a world record should come from competition and our world records have come from competition. So, I have not cross over to the other side where we just set it off and hope for a world record. I have always thought you have a balanced race of's tradition here in Chicago. It is always great racing. Bank of America has been amazing in their support." 

He could not have said it better about todays' amazing day of racing. 

The race went out fast, as Jason Hartmann, the fourth placer and first American at Boston the last two years, took the pack of twenty plus through the 5k in 14.45. Dathan Ritzenhein was in back at 14:53, running his race. 

Tucked into the front pack was Belete Assefa of Ethiopia, Moses Mosop, 2011 winner, Sammy Kitwara, Micah Kogo, second place in Boston 2012 in his debut, Dennis Kimetto, 2013 Tokyo winner and 2012 second place in Berlin in his debut, now in his third marathon, was on the short list of many. Zersenay Tadesse was also there, as the half marathon world champion was thought to be quite fit. 

Assefa Bekele took the chores from 5k to 10k, hitting that second 5k in 14:35 and hitting 10k in 29:20. Jason Hartmann moved back, and paced Dathan Ritzenhein through 10k in 29:47. 
Chris Solinsky and Alistair Cragg were pacing Matt Tegenkamp in his debut marathon. 

The pace was fast and furious. The conditions were near perfect, low 50s, and slight tailwind. So the pace just continued. 

Watching Moses Mosop, Sammy Kitwara, Micah Kogo, Dennis Kimetto churn through 4:40 plus miles was pretty exciting.  Abdullah Falil of Morocco, as he had for the past ten kilometers, lead at 15 kilometers in 44 minutes, a third 5k in 14:38. Mosop was just behind him, with Sammy Kitwara, MIke Kigen and Micah Kogo. Emmanuel Mutai was in 44:02, just behing Kogo. 

Jason Hartman and Dathan Ritzenhein hit the 15k in 44:49.

Moses Mosop took the lead from 15k to 20k, looking excellent. The 20k was hit in 58:39, a 14:38 split. The front pack was down to 14, between 58:39 and 58:43. Zersenay Tadesse was  back in 59:29, not really a factor after that.

Dathan Ritzenhein hit 20k in 59:44, running his own race. 

The half way point was by twelve in 1:01.52. Moses Mosop, Dennis Kimetto, Shadrack Kosgei, Micah Kogo, and Emmanuel Mutai were all there. 

Dathan Ritzenhein was in 17th, hitting the halfway in 1:03.02. " My perfect pace would be 62:45 to 63 minutes", Dathan had told the media on Friday during the press meeting. He was running his race, and looked excellent. 

Matt Tegenkamp, in his debut, hit the halfway in 1:05.14, running well with Chris Solinsky and Alistair Cragg. "  I know Alistair and Chris well, understand their pace, and felt find at this time. I worked hard from 13 to 18 miles." 

The pace continued fast, as Simon Ndirangu hit the 25k in 1:13.16, a 14:36 for the 5k split. Sammy Kitwara was running right behind Ndirangu, with Ayele Abshero, Moses Mosop, Emmanuel Mutai. Dennis Kimetto was three seconds back. "I was a bit tired at 14 miles, but I came back." noted Kimetto afterwards.

The 25k to 30k section of the race was where the race became a game of intrigue. Kimetto moved to the front, running 14:44 for 5k, hitting the 30k in 1:28.04. Kitwara, Kogo, Abshero, Kigen and Moseop were all there. Dathan Ritzenhein had moved from seventeenth to ninth, hitting the 30k in 1:29:56. 

Matt Tegenkamp was in sixteenth, hitting the 30k in 1:32:27. Alistair was there, a second ahead of Tegenkamp. " This was where we were running hard." noted Tegenkamp. 

The pace quickened, and the lead pack which had started at nineteen, then fourteen around 15k, and then 9 at 20k, and now, at 35k, it was down to four: Emmanuel Mutai, Sammy Kitwara, Micah Kogo and Dennis Kimetto, hitting the 35k in 1:42.38. 

Dathan Ritzenhein hit the 35k in 1:45.50. 

It was just about 18 miles that Dathan started having twinging in his hamstrings. " I felt better as I slowed down, but the last four miles were just a struggle." 

Matt Tegenkamp told us afterwards, that he started slowing down after 35k, and had to work hard to continue. " It was not an easy race. Unlike the track, where you fall off and apart, I found the marathon a place where I never breathed hard."

Upfront, Dennis Kimetto, Emmanuel Mutai and Sammy Kitwara were now alone. Micah Kogo had run 16:28 between 35k and 40k. Kimeeto, Mutai ran 14:38-14:40 in their dueling as Sammy Kitwara fell off, running 15:20.

Where was Moses Mosop? Moses started to fall off between 30k and 35k, where he was down 49 seconds in that 5k split. By 35k, Mosop ran 18:43 for the 35k to 40k split. He was off the back and did not stop falling back, finishing nearly seven minutes behind the top three. 

Dennis Kimetto, in his third marathon, and Emmanuel Mutai, who had the bigger reputation, dueled. Kimetto built a hard won two seconds between 35 and 40k, hit in 1:57.18 to 1:57.19. 

Dennis Kimetto did not have any idea on his time, or the course record. He just kept battling and built up an eight second lead by the time he hit the finish in 2:03.45, a personal best and a new course record. " Today I am very happy, " noted Kimetto, " I have my personal best."

Emmanuel Mutai also ran his personal best, running 2:03.52 in second. " For me, I am really happy with the way that I ran. The race was so tough but I fought. At the last mile, I was a bit tired, but I went to grab the water, but I missed the bottle. I am really happy. The season, this year for me was good, but last year it was a bit stronger for me. I am back with full force." 

Dathan Ritzenhein finished fifth, his best placing in Chicago, but his race after 21 miles, was difficult, as he ran 2:09.45. " It was not until 21, 22 miles when the cramping got really bad. I slowed down a little bit and got it under control. It was about trying to keep it under control." 

Matt Tegenkamp finished tenth in his debut, running 2:12.28. " There was no easy part of the race. I worked hard between 13 and 20 miles, and the last 10k was a grind." 

But the day belonged to Dennis Kimetto, " Before 2010 I was concentrating on farming and had never run before. I had literally never run before. I was farming maze and tending cows."

One observer noted that, perhaps, the World Marathon Majors should just send the award winning check for the next two years now to Dennis Kimetto. 

He was that impressive. 

Also impressive was the way Chicago juggled the need for security and the need to enjoy a wonderful marathon day in the Windy City. 

Kudos to Jeremy Borling and the media team. With James O'Brien providing mile updates and accurate mile splits on the boards, it may have been Chicago's best media room presentation in a decade. 

As I finish this piece today, I have to comment on the great racing day. 40,000 runners enjoyed a wonderful race. 

For complete results, please go to

Our feature on the women's race, won by Rita Jeptoo, will be posted later tonight. 

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