Tsegaye Kebede is Back As He Runs 2:04:38 to Crush Chicago Marathon Course Record

By Mike Knapp and LetsRun.com
October 7, 2012

As the sun rose out of Lake Michigan prior to the start of the 35th Bank of America Chicago Marathon, conditions were ripe for the professional runners to do something special.

Two hours, four minutes, 38 seconds later, Tsegaye Kebede did just that. The 29-year-old Ethiopian dropped countryman Feyisa Lilesa with just under a mile to go to win the race and notch his second career Marathon Major (London, 2010).

Lilesa was 14 seconds back while Tilahun Regassa – making his marathon debut -- was third in 2:05:26 to give Ethiopia a sweep of the podium.

Dathan Ritzenhein, racing at Chicago for the first time and for the seventh time at the distance overall, was ninth in 2:07:50, notching a personal best by over two minutes.

Kebede, who finished second to the late Sammy Wanjiru in the final 400 meters in 2010, returned to Chicago after being snubbed for the Ethiopian team for the London Olympics and showed further proof that leaving him off the team was an enormous mistake.

After making the turn onto Columbus Drive, Kebede openly celebrated the entire last 200 meters, taking off his stocking cap and twirling it above his head. He was also visibly excited after finishing the race.

"I don't believe it, I think it is a mistake!" Kebede said in a television interview afterwards. "Two years ago I could not run with Wanjiru. (Sunday) after the half I pushed and ran 2:04. My dream has always been to run 2:04. It's a great day."

As the field took off under cloudy skies and temperatures hovering around 40 degrees, it wasn't a matter of Moses Mosop's 2011 course record of 2:05:37 being broken, it was by how much, and in the end, by how many.

Eventually the top three all broke that record while Sammy Kitwara of Kenya, also making his debut, finished fourth in 2:05:55. Wesley Korir, who finished second here a year ago and won Boston in April, ran 2:06:23 to place fifth.

Pacesetters Shadrack Kosgei, Merkabu Birke and Solomon Deksisa took the field through the first half in 62:55, which was 40 seconds below the expected pace for the lead pack. Once the pacers dropped off, the race started to become serious in the 17th mile when the leaders ran a 4:38 split.

Kebede and company kept turning the screws, running the next four miles in 4:38, 4:37, 4:35 and 4:33, leaving four runners left for the final five miles.

"When we passed halfway, the pace was too slow," Kebede said. "But after the pacemakers dropped out I pushed by myself."

Regassa, wearing a pained expression on his face that led commentator Toni Reavis to remark he was wearing a "Freddy Krueger mask", surged at that point but was covered by Kebede and Lilesa. Regassa fell off the pace about a mile later, turning the race over to the others and no doubt giving Kebede a little déjà vu of his mano-a-mano surgefest with Wanjiru two years ago.

The pace slowed a bit over the final three miles as a headwind taxed the duo coming up Michigan Avenue. The final stretch went in 4:43, 4:50 and 4:55, and Kebede made his final move just as he and Regassa passed the 1-mile-to-go sign. Kebede earned his fifth overall marathon win and continued an impressive run of consistency with his 11th podium in his last 12 marathons.

Kebede ran a massive negative split as he covered the second half of the race in 61:43. It also marked the first time an Ethiopian man has won at Chicago.

"To be the first (Ethiopian) is important to us," he said.

****

Kebede ran a huge negative split. 62:55 for the first half and a sensational 61:43 second half. The second half-included a 14:19 5k from 30 to 35k (that's 2:00:49 marathon pace). The 10km between 30km and 40km was covered in 28:59 (that's 2:01:35 marathon pace). Update:  We didn't realize initially that the 5km from 25k to 30k was 14:29 for Kebede. So he ran 10k from 25k to 35k in 28:48 (2:01:31 marathon pace). And he ran 15km from 25k to 40k in 43:28.

****

We have much more on Dathan Ritzenhein's run here.  Ritz became the third fastest American in history by finishing ninth here in a big PR of 2:07:47 after a 63:25 first half. He shattered his old PR of 2:09:55 and the 2:08:13 that his coach Alberto Salazar ran on a short New York course.

Top 5 Fastest US Marathoners in History
2:05:38 Khalid Khannouchi 4/14/02
2:06:17 Ryan Hall 4/13/08
2:07:47 Dathan Ritzenhein 10/07/12
2:08:56 Abdi Abdirahman 10/23/06
2:09:08 Meb Keflezighi 1/14/12

The unofficial top 30 men's results appear below. After that, the top 30 halfway splits are listed. More results here.

Pos. Name (CTZ) City, State BIB Division Age Overall Pace Est.Finish Diff Time
1 Kebede, Tsegaye (ETH) 5 25 04:46 - +00:00 02:04:38
2 Lilesa, Feyisa (ETH) 6 22 04:46 - +00:14 02:04:52
3 Regassa, Tilahun (ETH) 17 22 04:48 - +00:50 02:05:28
4 Kitwara, Sammy (KEN) 16 25 04:49 - +01:17 02:05:55
5 Korir, Wesley (KEN) 2 29 04:49 - +01:35 02:06:13
6 Kipyego, Bernard (KEN) 3 26 04:50 - +02:03 02:06:41
7 Ndungu, Samuel (KEN) 12 24 04:52 - +02:48 02:07:26
8 Yami, Dadi (ETH) 7 30 04:53 - +03:05 02:07:43
9 Ritzenhein, Dathan (USA) 15 29 04:53 - +03:09 02:07:47
10 Dawit, Shami (ETH) 8 28 04:55 - +04:01 02:08:39
11 Korir, Laban (KEN) 9 26 04:58 - +05:14 02:09:52
12 Matebo, Levy (KEN) 4 22 04:58 - +05:24 02:10:02
13 Kipyego, Michael (KEN) 11 29 04:58 - +05:24 02:10:02
14 Kobayashi, Koji (JPN) 22 23 04:59 - +06:02 02:10:40
15 Kumamoto, Takeshi (JPN) 18 28 05:02 - +07:09 02:11:47
16 Eggleston, Jeffrey (USA) Flagstaff, AZ 23 28 05:03 - +07:25 02:12:03
17 Kadota, Hiroki (JPN) 20 27 05:06 - +09:01 02:13:39
18 Trujillo, Carlos (USA) 35 27 05:08 - +09:43 02:14:21
19 Polley, Drew (USA) 26 26 05:10 - +10:34 02:15:12
20 Leon, Craig (USA) Eugene, OR 29 27 05:11 - +11:00 02:15:38
21 Rizzo, Patrick (USA) 25 29 05:11 - +11:06 02:15:44
22 Richards, Malcolm (USA) San Francisco, CA 31 29 05:14 - +12:22 02:17:00
23 Pifer, Stephen (USA) Jacksonville, FL 36 27 05:17 - +13:41 02:18:19
24 Frazer, Thomas (USA) Lake Foprest, IL 34 31 05:18 - +13:59 02:18:37
25 Carballo, Carlos (USA) Cathedral City, CA 106 30 05:19 - +14:23 02:19:01
26 Grabow, Jimmy (USA) Running Springs, CA 21 28 05:19 - +14:25 02:19:03
27 Onsare, Benard (KEN) Calgary, AB 56 29 05:20 - +14:58 02:19:36
28 Muturi, Stephen (KEN) 33 37 05:20 - +14:59 02:19:37
29 Jones, Tyler (USA) Chalfont, PA 105 23 05:20 - +15:01 02:19:39
30 Horiguchi, Takashi (JPN) 14 33 05:22 - +15:54 02:20:32

Men's Halfway Spllits

Pos. Name (CTZ) City, State BIB Division Age Overall Pace Est.Finish Diff Time
1 Birke, Merkabu (ETH) 42 24 05:27 02:22:34 +00:00 01:02:54
2 Kosgei, Shadrack (KEN) 41 27 04:48 02:05:52 +00:00 01:02:54
3 Ndungu, Samuel (KEN) 12 24 04:52 - +00:01 01:02:55
4 Kebede, Tsegaye (ETH) 5 25 04:46 - +00:01 01:02:55
5 Regassa, Tilahun (ETH) 17 22 04:47 - +00:01 01:02:55
6 Deksisa, Solomon (ETH) 43 18 04:48 02:05:50 +00:01 01:02:55
7 Kitwara, Sammy (KEN) 16 25 04:49 - +00:01 01:02:55
8 Yami, Dadi (ETH) 7 30 04:53 - +00:01 01:02:55
9 Matebo, Levy (KEN) 4 22 04:58 - +00:01 01:02:55
10 Kipyego, Michael (KEN) 11 29 04:58 - +00:01 01:02:55
11 Korir, Laban (KEN) 9 26 04:58 - +00:02 01:02:56
12 Kipyego, Bernard (KEN) 3 26 04:50 - +00:02 01:02:56
13 Dawit, Shami (ETH) 8 28 04:55 - +00:02 01:02:56
14 Korir, Wesley (KEN) 2 29 04:49 - +00:02 01:02:56
15 Lilesa, Feyisa (ETH) 6 22 04:46 - +00:02 01:02:56
16 Mose, Erick Monyenye (KEN) Kenya 44 25-29 25 04:50 02:06:41 +00:31 01:03:25
17 Ritzenhein, Dathan (USA) 15 29 04:53 - +00:31 01:03:25
18 Kadota, Hiroki (JPN) 20 27 05:03 02:12:09 +00:31 01:03:25
19 Kobayashi, Koji (JPN) 22 23 04:59 - +00:32 01:03:26
20 Kumamoto, Takeshi (JPN) 18 28 05:02 - +00:32 01:03:26
21 Horiguchi, Takashi (JPN) 14 33 05:18 02:18:59 +00:42 01:03:36
22 Morgan, Mike (USA) 46 32 05:00 02:10:54 +02:33 01:05:27
23 Eggleston, Jeffrey (USA) Flagstaff, AZ 23 28 05:03 - +02:35 01:05:29
24 Smyth, Patrick (USA) 27 26 05:21 02:20:05 +02:36 01:05:30
25 Grabow, Jimmy (USA) Running Springs, CA 21 28 05:17 02:18:12 +02:37 01:05:31
26 Moriwaki, Yuki (JPN) 19 28 05:20 02:19:39 +02:37 01:05:31
27 Onsare, Benard (KEN) Calgary, AB 56 29 05:18 02:18:38 +02:38 01:05:32
28 Naranjo, William (COL) 28 34 05:17 02:18:18 +03:24 01:06:18
29 Gutierrez, Jason (COL) 24 28 05:11 02:15:45 +03:24 01:06:18
30 Leon, Craig (USA) Eugene, OR 29 27 05:09 02:14:43 +03:31 01:06:25

LRC: American Dathan Ritzenhein Runs a 2:07:47 PR to Finish 9th at 2012 Chicago Marathon
LRC Women's Recap:
Atsede Baysa Wins Near Photo Finish at 2012 Bank of America Chicago Marathon

*Live Chicago Marathon Thread *Ritz 9th in 2:07:47
*Recap and Analysis from Our Friends at the Sports Scientists Blog  

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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