Yes, sir, records fell Sunday, just not the big ones at the 41st Bank of America Chicago Marathon.
Great Britain’s Sir Mo Farah sprinted away from Ethiopian Mosinet Geremew in the last half mile to win a truly international event in the rain and wind in 2 hours, 5 minutes, 11 seconds.
The women’s race was more of a coronation as Kenyan Brigid Kosgei separated from the lead pack at 20 miles and pulled away to win in 2:18:36, third-fastest in Chicago history. Kosgei, who finished second last year, beat her personal record (2:20:13) by nearly two minutes.
Farah, who playfully boxed last year’s champion, American Galen Rupp, at Friday’s news conference, punched out his PR, passing the 2:06:21 he ran earlier this year in London. In doing that, he broke the European marathon record, set by Norway’s Sondre Nordstad Moen in December 2017 at the Fukuoka Marathon in Japan.
A deep, elite field of men thinned to a lead pack of six from five countries — Great Britain, United States, Kenya, Ethiopia and Japan — at 21 miles. A mile later, Rupp dropped off the pace.
“I was feeling strong at that point and wanted to go hard and get rid of them without too much pain,’’ Farah said.
The final two miles were down to Farah and Geremew.
“I was definitely confident from Mile 24 on,’’ Farah said. “I was pushing the guys to see who would go with me, and I wasn’t really sure who he was.’’
Geremew, who finished in 2:05:24, remembered Farah from the 10,000 meters in the 2015 World Championships in Peking, which Farah won.
“I was expecting something better, expecting to win, but about two weeks ago, I had a small injury,’’ said Geremew, who came to Chicago with the top men’s PR (2:04).
“I have had the pleasure of watching [Farah] run a long time, and he is one of the great finishers,’’ executive race director Carey Pinkowski said. “When he starts to sense he is going to win, he comes alive.’’
Farah ran in only his third marathon after a magical track career, which included four Olympic gold medals, in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters in the 2012 and ’16 Games.
“I know I am capable of mixing with the guys,’’ Farah said. “I can go a lot faster. We will see.’’
He believes low 2:04 or high 2:03 is possible for him.
“He doesn’t need to do this. He could have retired after what he did,’’ Rupp said. “I certainly won’t put anything past him. The event is trending toward track. He is a competitor, and I know how hard he works.’’
At 24, Kosgei also has a lot of possibilities ahead of her.
At 18 miles, the lead pack of women were down to three. Ethiopian Roza Dereje finished more than two minutes back (2:21:18) for second. At 20 miles, Kosgei separated from everyone and ran away.
“Moved along in order to make a good time,’’ she said.
Before the race, she swallowed a painkiller to help with a nagging knee injury.
“So I moved like someone without any injury,’’ Kosgei said.
That she did, and ran into history.
“I wasn’t expecting 2:18 but was trying for 2:19,’’ Kosgei said. “Next year, I hope I am here.’’
That seems to be a good possibility. Pinkowski said he had known she was “on the cusp of making a breakthrough.’’
This year, the men had rabbits (pacesetters) again in Kenyans Titus Ekiru and Alex Korio. They paced the lead pack through halfway at 1:03:02, probably a minute too slow.
Rain spit as runners lined up and came intermittently. Temperatures were in the upper 50s and lower 60s. Of more impact were the north-northeast winds coming off Lake Michigan as runners headed north from the start and north again for the finish.
The last rain on race day was Oct. 22, 2006, the last snow race was Oct. 31, 1993.