Kenyan wins Chicago Marathon, shatters two-week-old women's record

Posted: Monday, October 08, 2001

CHICAGO -- Running the final 15 miles pretty much by herself, Catherine Ndereba of Kenya easily won the Chicago Marathon on Sunday and broke the world mark set just a week ago.

Once at the finish line, she glanced up to see her time of 2 hours, 18 minutes, 47 seconds. She had broken the women's world best by nearly a minute.

Then the tears began to flow.

''I was thinking in my mind this morning that if the climate was good I'd go probably on a pace of 2:20,'' Ndereba said. ''It was overwhelming, I could not express it. I could not believe my eyes that I could go under 2:19. It is my prayer and my dream.''

Running on a crisp morning with temperatures in the low 40s, Ndereba eclipsed the world mark of 2:19:46 set in Berlin by Japan's Naoko Takahashi last week. Takahashi's time was the first under 2:20 for a woman.

In the men's race, Ben Kimondiu went from pacer to racer, holding off fellow Kenyan Paul Tergat in the final mile.

Ndereba's victory means both the men's and women's world's bests have been set at the Chicago Marathon. Three-time champion Khalid Khannounchi, who did not compete this year, set the men's mark of 2:05:42 in 1999.

Ndereba, the defending women's champion and a two-time Boston Marathon champ, broke away in the 11th mile, expanding her lead to 10 seconds over Lornah Kiplagat. Four miles later, she was ahead by nearly a minute. From there, she was by herself.

Ethiopia's Elfenesh Alemu was second in 2:24:54 and Australia's Kerryn McCann was third in 2:26:04. Kiplagat, last year's runner-up, dropped out with a stomach problem.

In a race with 31,871 starters, Rod DeHaven of Madison, Wis., was the first American finisher, taking sixth in a personal best of 2:11.40. Tony Iniguez of Aurora retained his wheelchair title, winning in 1:37:59.

Ndereba said knowing that Takahashi had broken 2:20 made it easier for her.

''That barrier just disappeared and it said that women can race in 2:18 or under,'' Ndereba said. ''You think in the future that women can go 2:15. No one knows with the new generation coming.''

Ndereba ran a 1:10:14 in the first half Sunday and then picked it up to 1:08:33 in the second.

''It was amazing when Takahashi ran a 2:19:46, and now Catherine takes nearly a minute off that. That's a good men's time,'' McCann said.

''I was just trying to run as well as I could and all the training I had done paid off,'' Ndereba said. ''If I was feeling tired, I kept telling myself to keep moving, I'm almost home.''

Kimondiu, a designated pacesetter, was supposed to run about 18 miles as a ''rabbit'' for the favored runners and then drop out. But he was among the leaders for the entire race and didn't stop, resisting Tergat's final kick.

Kimondiu, second this year in the Los Angeles Marathon, won Sunday in 2:08.52.

Entering the race, he'd figured to pick up as much as $7,500 as a pacer, but ended up winning the race and $90,000.

Kimondiu didn't even tour the course. What's more, he and fellow pacesetter Joseph Kariuki were told by race officials near the halfway mark to slow down so the rest of the pack could catch up.

''Sometimes it is hard to predict how you are feeling. You just keep going,'' Kimondiu said. ''Nobody expected me to win this race. I'm very happy and glad.''

Tergat is the former world-record holder in the 10,000 meters and a two-time Olympic silver medalist. He is a five-time world champion in cross country and has two world titles in the half-marathon.

Running in just his second marathon, he appeared on the verge of passing Kimondiu but couldn't find the leg strength in the stretch. Tergat finished second in 2:08:56 and Kenyan Peter Githuka third in 2:09.

Tergat moved to fourth after 15 miles, to second after 20 and stayed on Kimondiu's shoulder most of the way from there.

''I knew he might out-kick me at the finish but I made it,'' Kimondiu said. ''I thought he was slowing down so he could pick up the last two miles. I didn't know what was up. I just kept going.''

Tergat wasn't upset to finish second to his countryman.

''This is the marathon and when it comes to the finish, it is not flat, it goes down,'' he said. ''I'm still mastering the tactics.''

A 22-year-old Seattle man collapsed near the finish line and died. Luke Roach was pronounced dead at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, said Dr. Greg Ewert, the race's medical examiner.

Ewert said preliminary information showed Roach's body temperature reached 107 degrees. Heis the third person to die in the marathon's 24-year history and second in the last two years.

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