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Chicago Marathon 2011: Moses Mosop a Superstar, Liliya Shobukhova Becomes Second Fastest Women Ever

By Mike Knapp, LetsRun.com
October 9, 2011

CHICAGO -- There are more than a few impressions to take away from the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, but one of them above all others will surely ring true.

Moses Mosop is a superstar.

The 26-year-old Kenyan, who entered the race nursing an Achilles injury that left him -- by his estimation -- at about 80-85 percent, ran a patient race through the first 30K before dropping the hammer and running away to his first World Marathon Major win in a course-record two hours, five minutes, 37 seconds. That was good enough for a 38-second win over Wesley Korir (2:06:16) and a 52-second advantage over Bernard Kipyego (2:06:29) as Kenya swept the podium once again. American Ryan Hall finished fifth in 2:08:04.

Mosop's effort broke the late Sammy Wanjiru's 2009 course record mark by just four seconds on a warm, sunny day that more than backed up the weather-aided 2:03:06 he ran in a second-place finish at Boston last April.

"I enjoyed the course very much today," said Mosop. "The only problem was that it was humid. I ran for the memory of Sammy Wanjiru, and I wanted to break the course record."

With a race-time temperature of 64 degrees, pacesetters Jonathan Maiyo and Tilahun Regassa led a pack of twelve that included all the favorites, including Ryan Hall, through the halfway point in 1:02:51.

A 4:36 14th mile whittled the pack down to five (Mosop, Bernard Kipyego, former LA marathon champ and Louisville star Wesley Korir,  previous Chicago Champ Evans Cheruiyot, sub 13:00 5000m runner Bekana Daba) as Ryan Hall could not go with the increased pace.

Korir Makes His Move
Those five were still together until just before the 30k mark. Korir went to the front and made a definitive move that broke up the group. He led the field through 30k in 1:28:46 as he opened a gap on the field.

Mosop remained within striking distance and then half a mile later was making a move of his own as he went by Korir. Running 4:36, 4:40 and 4:39 between miles 19-21, covering the distance between 30 and 35K in 14:29, Mosop blew the race open opening a 26 second lead.

That was enough to put his competitors in his wake, but he had more left in him if he needed it. "I thought maybe we were going to go together, but no one went with me," Mosop said. "I was ready to attack again at 35K."

Despite slowing from 35k to 40k, Moses extended his lead to 52 seconds and he held on the final mile for the comfortable victory.

Korir's move at 30km was measured and had a purpose, but at the same time he knew that a countermove was coming, most likely in a big way. "Moses is a strong guy, he's a 2:03 guy and that isn't something to joke about," Korir said. "I knew I was awakening a lion that was asleep."

Mosop's Achilles
As Mosop motored to his win the talk became that perhaps he was sandbagging and downgrading his chances in the lead-up to the race when he said he was only at 80-85%. But while the Achilles responded during the race, he pulled up and limped as soon as he crossed the finish line, and was visibly hobbling in the media center afterwards. It was good enough to win, but not much more.

Renato Canova, Mosop's coach, tried to downplay such tactics. "People think that when I speak that he isn't in shape and I talk like this I want to cheat, but this was the reality," said Canova. "It was very clear of what happened and what is possible. There was no reason before the race to speak of what is not true."

Ryan Hall Reacts
While Hall ran at the back of the lead pack, when the race got tough he just didn't get going. He was spit out the back between miles 14-15 (run in 4:36 and 4:43) and by mile 18 he was in no-man's land and 50 seconds off the pace.

Though he tried to gloss the day over by saying it was the third-best time of the nine marathons he has run, the hightened expectations of becoming the first American-born man to win a major marathon since Greg Meyer won both Boston and Chicago in 1982 perhaps overshadowed his positive vibes. "I thought I was in a little better shape than that, but I'll take it," Hall said. "My hat's off to those guys, I thought they ran phenomenal, especially in the conditions. Our splits felt like they were very much all over the place and I thought that really hurt me. My turnover wasn't quite as good as I was hoping it would be, so anytime we would throw down a quicker mile it would get difficult for me and take me out of my rhythm."

More LRC Men's Coverage: Wesley Korir Impresses With 2:06:15 Second Place in Chicago   *Moses Mosop Breaks Course Record at 2011 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, Shobukhova Runs 2:18:20

Liliya Shobukhova Dominates
In the women's race, Russian Liliya Shobukhova made her move a little early, but accomplished the same result and became the first athlete to win three straight times in Chicago. Her time of 2:18:20 was good for 13th overall and the 34-year-old became the second-fastest woman in history behind Paula Radcliffe.

Locked in a good battle with Ejegayehu Dibaba of Ethiopia and Kayoko Fukishi of Japan, the trio posted identical times through the first half (1:09:25) and at 25K Shobukhova still led Dibaba by just six seconds.

But Shobukhova  ran the next 5K in 16:15 and stretched her lead to almost a minute and eventually rolled to the win by 3:49 over Dibaba (2:22:09) and 6:18 over Fukishi (2:24:38). Claire Hallissey of Arlington, Va. was the top American in 2:29:27. (Hallisseey lives in Arlington, Va but is British). Jeannette Faber was the top American in 10th in 2:36.58.

Along with her third straight win at Chicago, Shobuhova also set a Russian national record and more than likely cemented a spot on the Russian marathon team for the 2012 Olympics in London, as the federation will be taking the top two times between Sept. 1 and Jan. 1, 2012 along with choosing a third wild card entry.

"Out of the three, it's nice to win Chicago three times in a row," she said. "Of course, the Olympics is something that I have wanted for a long time and being a two-time Olympian, this time I would like to come back with a medal, definitely."

More Women: Million Dollar? Day for Shobukhova in Chicago

Mike Knapp is a free-lance writer based in Aurora, IL. Knapp has been a regular LetsRun.com visitor ever since he spotted the LetsRun.com jersey at the Chicago Marathon in 2001.

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