It was more Braun than speed Sunday for the men.
That is, until Galen Rupp erupted in the final three miles of the 40th Bank of America Chicago Marathon to became the first American in 15 years to win.
Rupp, whose dad, Greg, came from Maywood, finished in 2:09:20 to become the first American to win in Chicago since Khalid Khannouchi (2:05:56) in 2002. Rupp grew up and lives in Portland, Oregon.
“My plan was to be invisible [the] first 20 or 22 miles,’’ Rupp said.
In this race, that was easy to do. It was bizarrely paced and very slow. American Aaron Braun led for roughly the first third of the race. At one point, the lead pack held at least 26 men. Neuqua Valley’s own Chris Derrick led for a while around Mile 18 in his first marathon.
“In Boston, I got too anxious,’’ said Rupp, who finished second there. “Here, it was real important for me to sit back and relax.’’
Rupp made his move around Mile 23 to break from defending champion, Kenyan Abel Kirui, and pushed the pace with final miles of 4:35, 4:30 and 4:36.
“That is one of the great things about races without pacers,’’ Rupp said. “I was a little surprised it went out slow. I thought it would go out faster. I really thought they would push it earlier, some of the guys who have faster PRs.”
“He was clipping along [at the end],’’ executive race director Carey Pinkowski said. “That was Khannouchi-eque closing speed. That would shake anyone up.’’
At the finish, Rupp was met with kisses and hugs from his wife and children.
It was a different speed on the women’s side. Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba pushed the pace and won in 2 hours, 18 minutes, 31 seconds.
“Contrasting races, but I thought it was very interesting and engaging,’’ Pinkowski said.
Contrasting indeed. Dibaba had a decisive victory, her first, that flirted with the course record (2:17:18), set by Great Britain’s Paula Radcliffe on Oct. 13, 2002.
“Actually, I wasn’t running against anyone, just running for a personal best,’’ Dibaba said through a translator. “After 35K, that is usually when you think of dropping others. There was no one with me at that point.’’
Dibaba separated from the lead pack at the halfway point, but Kenyan Brigid Kosgei, who finished second (2:20:22), hung with her for a few miles. Then it was Dibaba chasing the course record on her own.
“Big thing for me here was to win,’’ Dibaba said. “In London, I ran fast [but finished second].’’
She said she is not going back to track and hopes “to tackle the world record with pacemakers.’’
Rupp’s immediate plans are to enjoy his first marathon victory.
He is sticking around Chicago with his family. The kids want to see “dinosaur bones’’ at the Field Museum, and he has tickets for the Cubs’ playoff game on Monday.
“Hey, I flew in to Game 4 of the World Series last year,’’ he said.
This year, he can watch as a champion.
“At the heart of it, it is about competition,’’ Rupp said. “I love these competitive races.”
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