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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Chicago Marathon 2010: Live coverage

Chicago Marathon 2010:  The Live Post from the Rumble in the Jungle (including video)

Sammy Wanjiru and Liliya Shobukhova have defended their Chicago Marathon titles, won the World Marathon Major titles, and delivered two constrasting victories in the Windy (and slightly warm) city today.

Below is our "live post" (which is kind of edited after the fact, thanks to a few technical gremlins), and you can follow the splits and our in-race thoughts.

But before that, re-live the final mile of a quite magnificent men's race in the video below.  It was a showdown between the two best marathon racers of the last two years, in Sammy Wanjiru and Tsegay Kebede.  Kebede has had a great 2009/2010 season, and may even have been a slight favourite over Wanjiru coming into Chicago, thanks to his victory in London and the fact that Wanjiru has had a pretty lean year (including a DNF in London and in a few low-key races this year).

But Chicago 2010 was about Wanjiru, back to his best.  The final 10km of this race was exceptional - not all that fast, to be honest - the 10km interval from 30km to 40km was covered in 30:13 - by today's marathon standards, that's relatively slow.  But this doesn't tell the full story.  The story was Kebede, driving the pace at the front in relatively warm conditions, surging every odd mile (they went from 4:40 to 4:58 at times), in an attempt to break the resistance of a super-fast field.  He succeeded, with one exception - Wanjiru.  There were times that Wanjiru looked to be dangling off the back, 20m behind, but every time, he fought back.  At least half a dozen times, Wanjiru looked to be dropped, but he returned every time, until the final few hundred meters, when Wanjiru made the race's decisive move.

The final kilometer was edge-of-the-seat stuff.  Kebede was clearly intent on driving from the front, because on two occasions, Wanjiru came onto his shoulder, and Kebede immediately sprinted to defend his road position (you can see one example at 2:45 in the video - it's quite something).  But eventually, Wanjiru found enough, Kebede was beaten, and the race was won, but only after a gigantic battle worthy of separating the two top ranked runners in the World Marathon Majors.

In the end, the margin of victory was 19 seconds, but the story was in some brutal, courageous and fierce racing over the final 5km.  It was magnificent racing, which no explanation can capture.  So rather enjoy the final mile, courtesy FloTrack, below.  And then read the live post below that!

Track and Field Videos on Flotrack

The live post

The start of the race is nearly here, and I can say that the conditions at this point are probably not favourable for the record to fall today.  There is a bit of a stiff W/SW breeze, and the temperature and humidity at the start at 0645 is 68.1 F and 46%.  So it feels cool, and any of the runners standing around in shorts and singlets will feel cold, but it is not optimal for a world record.  Having said that, however, it is still possible as the conditions are not warm enough to prohibit a record outright.

Follow us here for some live updates of the racing and conditions!

Jonathan and Ross

Men 5 km splits 

5 km:  15:05
10 km:   29:33
15 km:  44:31
20 km:  59:19
21.1 km: 1:02:37
25 km:  1:14:30
30 km: 1:29:37 (Cheruiyot +5 s)
35 km:  1:44:19
40 km:  1:59:50 (Kebede, with Wanjiru on and off at the back, but only ever 3 seconds down)
42.2 km:  2:06:24 for Wanjiru.  Kebede 2:06:43 and Lelisa 2:08:10

Women 5 km splits 

5 km:  16:33
10 km:  33:05
15 km:  49:38
20 km:  1:06:07  (Baysa and Daska, with Shobukhova 14 seconds down)
21.1 km:  1:09:45
25 km:  1:22:42
30 km:  1:39:28 (Baysa alone at the front, Shobukhova 28 seconds down)
35 km: 1:56:40 (Shobukhova leads, Baysa 15 seconds down)
40 km: 2:13:26 (Shobukhova with a 2:20 lead)
Finish: 2:20:25 (PB and defense for Shobukhova)

Live updates

10 km
Unfortunately the television coverage is not so great, but going by the split times there is already a race forming in the women's race---Bayisa and Magarsa are already ahead of Shobukhova, Grigoryeva and Mikitenko by over 30 s, so let's see how that goes.

As predicted, on the men there is a bunch of all the contenders.

Some point after 10 km, the two women leaders are opening it up.  There are additional timing mats placed on the course at arbitrary points to prevent cheating, and at the first one the gap between the leading women and the chasers has gone up to a whopping 1min50s!  So suddenly it is looking like a two-woman race. . .

15 km
The men are on pace for "only" a 2:05, which means there are going to be fireworks at some point after halfway because the field will still be together at that point.

In the women's race, the gap is opening up, and Baysa and Daska are slowly opening up a lead on last year's champion, Shobukhova.  If they hold that pace it will be 2:19-2:20 finish for them.

21.1 km
The men have now hit the halfway point in 1:02:37 and are on course for just over 2:05.

On the women's side, the gap between the two Ethiopians and Shobukhova is 15 seconds, halfway having been reached in 1:09:45

25 km
No change in the women's race - two Ethiopians, though a small (3 second) gap has appeared between Bayisa (Paris Champion earlier this year) and Daska.  Shobukhova is in sight, at 20 seconds back, but the gap is only getting larger.

30 km
It is now a lead bunch of six in the men's race, absent is Cheruiyot who has now been gapped and appears to be going backwards.  Stay tuned, because someone will put in a surge within the next 5 km to break things up. . .

And it has started!  They are getting strung out, so the pace is rising.

For the women,an interesting situation is developing, because Daska is now sliding backwards, and Shobukhova has moved into second.  The leader, Astede Baysa, is 28 seconds ahead, but with 12km still to run, don't count out the Russian defending champ.

35 km
As the men approach 35 km, Kebede is looking in control and trying to get a gap on Wanjiru and Lelisa, but Wanjiru is fighting hard to keep with him.

Kebede is driving the pace on at the front, he is the aggressore and Wanjiru is hanging on.  Every few minutes, a small gap opens, only a second or two, but Wanjiru is definitely not on the shoulder paying close attention the entire time.  Kebede and Wanjiru are racing for the win and the World Marathon Majors, so there is a great deal at stake!

Kebede has created yet another gap, only 20 m, but that's often decisive.  So far, Wanjiru is holding it and he may well have enough to come back.  Yes, he's back!  Wanjiru has rejoined, but then so has Lelisa.  That's an indication that Kebede's pace is slowing.  The commentators are saying 4:40 miles followed by 4:58 miles, and certainly, the 5km splits are not that brutal.  So we're seeing a real race, and it's back to 3!

Kebede is still doing all the front running - only 2 kilometers to go, and the script is that Kebede pushes, opens a small gap, Wanjiru returns, Kebede drives again.  Lelisa has now been dropped and is down by perhaps 100m.

This should produce a fabulous race down the final straight.  The two best marathon racers in the last 3 years are locked together, the rumble in the concrete jungle, with 2 km to go and over $500,000 at stake!

Wanjiru throws in his own surge this time, but it's answered immediately by Kebede!  A counter-surge and again, Kebede has a 10m gap on Wanjiru.  This is magnificent racing, so aggressive.

Only 1 kilometer to go, Wanjiru comes onto Kebede's shoulder and he will not yield!  It's virtually a sprint for the final corner, with a kilometer to go.  Wanjiru settles back into second.

That's the move, Wanjiru has gone, and this time it is decisive.  With about 400m to go, an amazing shift from Wanjiru and Kebede's resistance is finally broken.  The gap is 50m and growing and it is going to be the defending champion, back to winning ways after a lean 2010.  What an amazing battle between two incredible athletes, today showing racing strength and courage!

Wanjiru wins - 2:06:24, with Kebede in second in 2:06:43.  Lelisa trailed in third, in 2:08:10.

What a fabulous race, the final victory margin may be 19 seconds, but it tells nothing of what was quite breath-taking racing over the final 5km in particular.  Surge and counter-surge, aggression from Kebede with Wanjiru seemingly hanging on (or playing a cagey follower-game, perhaps) until the last.  Without doubt, one of the fiercest and most impressive displays of marathon racing we've ever seen!

Women's race, 35 km

The women's race took on the somewhat expected pattern after 30km.  Having initially dropped Daska, Baysa grew her lead on pre-race favourite Shobukhova to 28 seconds with 12km to go.

However, the older and more experienced Shobukhova has just reeled Baysa in, and the gap is now blowing out at an amazing rate.  Shobukhova is well on the way to a big win, and in a very fast time.

Shobukhova has extended her lead, and unlike the men's race, she will finish unchallenged.  Amazingly, having been 28 seconds down at 30km, she is now 2:20 up on Baysa, who may struggle to hang on for second.  That's a 2:48 turn-around between the Ethiopian and the Russian, and it has come primarily as a result of a meltdown by Baysa - she covered the 10km in 36:18, compared to Shobukhova's 33:30 (which is pretty consistent race-pace).

The end result is that Shobukhova will defend her Chicago title, and join Wanjiru as the World Marathon Major champ.

Shobukhova it is - 2:20:25, a PB, and the fastest time by a woman since Mikitenko in Berlin in 2008  (in fact, I don't think a sub 2:22 has been recorded in two years).  Her final 2.2 km were run in 6:59, and as the guys at Letsrun have pointed out that's only marginally slower than Kebede in the men's race (he took 6:53)!  Second was Baysa, who held on bravely (just), ahead of Maria Konavolova, both over 3 minutes down.