Brigid Kosgei shatters women’s world-record marathon time in Chicago

Kosgei breaks old world record by more than a minute in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

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Brigid Kosgei crosses the finish line to win the London Marathon on April 28, 2019. She ran the fastest second-half marathon (1:06:42) in history.

Brigid Kosgei, shown here crossing the finish line to win the London Marathon on April 28, 2019 when she ran the fastest second-half marathon (1:06:42) in history, ran the fastest women’s marathon (2:14:04) Sunday in the Bank of American Chicago Marathon.

Naomi Baker/Getty Images

We’ll get to women and a 2-hour, 10-minute marathon later.

But Sunday belonged to Brigid Kosgei of Kenya, who smashed a world-record time that had stood for more than 16 years by more than a minute as she repeated as the women’s champion in the 42nd Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

Kosgei ran a torrid pace in the early miles, then settled into a steadier pace. Still, she finished in 2 hours, 14 minutes, 4 seconds to destroy the world record (2:15:25, Paula Radcliffe, Great Britain, April 13, 2003, London Marathon) and the Chicago course record (2:17:18, Radcliffe, Oct. 13, 2002).

‘‘I come here to run my own race; I don’t depend on someone,’’ Kosgei said. ‘‘I wanted to improve my personal best. That is why I ran today.’’

At the finish, executive race director Carey Pinkowski ran out with a towel and a hug — and deservedly so. Kosgei utterly dominated, beating runner-up Ababel Yeshaneh of Ethiopia (2:20:51) by 6 minutes, 47 seconds.

The men’s side was a lot tighter, with Lawrence Cherono of Kenya winning in 2:05:45 after passing the Ethiopian duo of Dejene Debela (2:05:46) and Asefa Mengstu (2:05:48) just before the final turn toward the finish. Cherono also won the Boston Marathon with a finishing sprint.

‘‘I applied the effort, and it worked,’’ he said.

Kosgei capped a wild weekend in the marathon around the world. On Saturday, Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya became the first person to break the two-hour barrier at the marathon distance in the Ineos 1:59 Challenge in Vienna, Austria.

Kosgei’s world record was the fifth set in Chicago and the first since Radcliffe did it exactly 17 years ago. The next spring, Radcliffe ran the world-record time that stood for 16½ years.

Steve Jones of Great Britain set the first world record (2:08:05) in Chicago in 1984, then came Khalid Khannouchi of Morocco (2:05:42) in 1999. Catherine Ndereba of Kenya (2:18:47) and Radcliffe ran back-to-back women’s world records in Chicago in 2001 and 2002.

In a postrace interview, Radcliffe handed Kosgei a world-record sign and said: ‘‘Always knew that time was coming. . . . I guess, for me, 17 is the lucky number.’’

Kosgei pushed a seemingly absurd pace early in the race, going through with a first-half split of 1:06:58.

In the discussion about what pace to have the pace-setters set, Pinkowski said: ‘‘She said she wanted to go 1:08 flat. I see she went 1:07 flat.’’

In the end, Kosgei ran into utterly new territory for women’s marathoners. She was coming off setting the women’s world record (1:04:28) in the half-marathon last month in England.

‘‘She was on that trajectory — an amazing trajectory — and stayed on that course,’’ Pinkowski said.

The weather was a bigger factor for some than for others. The temperature was 41 degrees at the start, but the wind didn’t become as bad as originally feared.

‘‘No problem,’’ Kosgei said of the weather. ‘‘Little windy, but the weather is good.’’

‘‘Weather was a factor,’’ Mengstu said. ‘‘It was windy, and times when the wind was working against us and we tried to push, it pushed us back.’’

After the race, Kosgei said several times that a woman, under the right conditions and with the right training, could run a 2:10 marathon.

‘‘Whoa, 2:14 is a feat I never thought I would see in my lifetime,’’ said Emma Bates, the top-finishing U.S. woman. ‘‘For her to say to 2:10 is a possibility for women is very inspiring and empowering.’’

‘‘Brigid just went cracking off and did what she did,’’ Pinkowski said.

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