Abel Kirui had the pedigree to win the Chicago marathon. But, with a field bereft of Dennis Kimetto, and Kebede Tsegaya, the patina of the race took on a different hue. The race went from a typical big city race, to a championship style race, where the early pace is a bit cautious, and the final six to seven miles are fast and furious. What was most intriguing was that one could not pick the winner until 150 meters to go!
With 5k splits of 16:03, 15:59, 15:48, and finally 15:14, the race was one of, to use a Will Farrell term, ‘Strategery’. It seemed like some did not know how to run without someone controlling the race. The pace resembled a 50k race walk early on, but, as the race developed, the surges and return to the lead pack reminded me of an accordian player, in a polka.
Abel Kirui, listening to his coach, Renato Canova, and his training mate, Florence Kiplagat, played his cards close to his chest. Taking on the defending champion over the final six miles, and using a final herculean sprint over the last 200 meters, Abel Kirui won his first race in North America!
After the race, Abel Kirui was embraced by 1968 Olympic gold medalist at 1,500 meters, Kipchoge Keino and 1988 champion Peter Rono, who were in Chicago to see the race and enjoy the Kenyan Marathon dinner, in its 18th year.
One final note on Abel Kirui. He wants to race in somewhere in the Spring to challenge Mr. Bekele and Mr. Kipchoge.
Abel Kirui wins #chicagomarathon !
Abel Kirui, the two time World champion, and 2012 Olympic silver medalist won the 2016 Chicago marathon today in an exciting finish over 2015 Chicago champ Dickson Chumba, by three seconds!
” I wanted to run well in America” is how a very talkative Kirui commented to TV. The pace was strange on the men’s side, with halfway reached in 1:06:28, and a pack of 13. There were some fast miles, such as a 4:33 at mile 15, then, like an accordian, the pack came back. Luke Puskedra and Diego Estrada fell off, and clawed their way back. At 22 miles, the racing got real serious as Gideon Kipketer, Dickson Chumba and Abel Kirui took off with a 4:44 mile. That was followed by a 4:39 mile and Kipketer was off the back. Dickson Chumba looked so relaxed and Abel Kirui was gritting his teeth, as the duo ran 4:41 and then, 4:43. In the final mile, Abel Kirui, wanting to run well in America, did just than, charging to the finish in 2:11:23.
Dickson Chumba, the defending champion, was with Abel Kirui until mile 25, as they dueled over the last six miles. 4:44, then, 4:39, then, 4:41, then, 4:43, then, 4:47! The battle between the two was monumental, especially after Gideon Kipketer fell off with four miles to go!
Dickson told the media that Abel had a wonderful race. To this keen observer, Abel Kirui was barely holding on in miles 22-25, and then, that one final, all out charge to the front did it. Abel Kirui made daylight between himself and the defending champion. After that, Abel Kirui put three seconds on Chumba between mile 26 and the finish.
Abel Kirui also noted after the race that he had listened to his coach, something he had not done in the past marathons. “I told my mind that I needed to be number one today, not number two” noted the animated Abel Kirui.
And that is how Abel Kirui won his first marathon in the U.S. The Windy city will be a place for good memories for the two time World Champion.
Abel did this wonderful dance after his win, reminiscent of Ezekial Kemboi, after his many steeplechase wins, and was hugged by 1968 Olympic gold medalist Kipchoge Keino, the first of the great Kenyan middle distance runners. Kenya went 1-6 at the 2016 Bank of America Chicago marathon. Diego Estrada was the first American in 2016 Bank of America Chicago Marathon in 2:13:56 in eighth place! 41,350 official starters today in the 39th Bank of America Chicago Marathon!
2016 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, Men, 1. Abel Kirui, KEN, 2:11:23, 2. Dickson Chumba, KEN, 2:11:26, 3. Gideon Kipketer, KEN, 2:12:20, 4. Paul Lonyangata, KEN, 2:13:17, 5. Stephen Sambu, KEN, 2:13:35, 6. Abanyeh Ayale, ETH, 2:13:52, 7. Takuya Fukatsu, JPN, 2:13:53, 8. Diego Estrada, USA, 2:13:56, 9. Koji Gokaya, JPN, 2:14:34, 10. Elkana Kibet, USA, 2:14:34, #chicagomarathon, #nike, #hiltonchicago, #gatorade, #theshoeaddicts,#trackandfieldnews, #letsrun,