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 Chicago Marathon From Sean Hartnett

"I am a very lucky man today, running a marathon for the first time and running very well." understated Ondoro Osoro after passing Khalid Khannouchi in the final mile to win the LaSalle Bank's Chicago marathon. Osoro ran very well indeed as his 2:06:54 ranks as history's third fastest marathon, the fastest run in North America, the fastest debut, and a Kenyan record.

Ossoro's efforts highlighted the annual world record chase that has characterized Chicago's recent ascent as one the world's fastest marathons. With Khannouchi's second place time of 2:07:19, Chicago has now produced four of the world's nine fastest marathons; and with South African Gert Thys' third place effort of 2:07:43 and Kenyan Joseph Kahugu's fourth place 2:07:59 -- it marked the first time that four men dipped under 2:08 in the same race.

This smash-mouth marathoning was orchestrated by race director Carey Pinkowski who assembled a deep field and a crew of WR pacers to take advantage of the clear, calm, 57 degree conditions. Russian Leonid Shvetsov led the early miles as the tall physician's crop of bleach-blond hair looked like an ITA pace beacon clicking off three minute kilometers. More than a dozen WR wannabes followed the 4:50 per mile tempo through 5K splits of 15:04, 30:06 (10K), 45:04 (15K), 60:08 (20K) enroute to an 1:03:28 opening half.

Kenyans Godfrey Kiprotich and John Kariuki assumed rabbitting duties through 30K (1:30:26) for a pack that included Khannouchi, Thys, and the Kenyan sextet of Osoro, Kahugu, Moses Tanui, Elijah Lagat, Philip Chirchir, and James Kariuki. Turning south into the bright sun, the marathon pendilum swung towards a race of attrition as the sunlight and the early pace began to exact a toll. Lagat was the first to let go even as the pace slipped to a 4:55 clip between 15 and 20 miles (1:37:10).

Sans rabbits, Kahugu, who trains in the Chicago area and won the Cleveland marathon in a PR 2:11:30 last May, delivered the first real challenge with a 4:42 21st mile that opened up a 10m lead on Khannouchi and Thys, and 30 meters on Osoro and Tanui. Khannouchi rallied with a 4:41 mile that sent him past Kahuga and Thys at 22 miles, while Osoro slipped seven seconds off the pace, and Tanui let go.

As Khannouchi seemed poised to replicate last year's finishing charge that suggested a mid 2:06 finish, Osoro was content to bide his time with the patience of the veteran marathoner -- which he wasn't. "I had no problems throughout the race," Osoro recalled, "at 20 miles I wanted to go, but I said no, thinking maybe it will be tough at the end. I struggled when Kahugu went, but could see their move was too fast and I was not worried. At 23 miles I could see that Kannouchi was not looking very strong so I decided to take my move then."

Despite pounding out a 4:47 mile Khannouchi's stride indeed began to falter. "I had pain in my ankle for the past two weeks," Khannouchi revealed. "It was very painful after 15 miles, and in the last miles [after favoring the ankle] my calf started to cramp."

Osoro moved past the fading Kahugu and Thys and ran down the defending champ just past the 25 mile mark. "I know Khalid has a very fast finish," Osoro explained. "When I caught him I pushed very hard for a minute. so that when he starts to sprint, I'll already be gone." Osoro closed out his victory with a 4:45 mile, covering his final 10K in 29:44. The new Kenyan record holder ran 1:03:30/1:03:24 halves -- the only runner in the top 25 to negative split the race. A race of attrition it turned out to be as only the top four finishers managed sub-five minute pace over the second half.

There would be no sprinting for Khannouchi who showed a lot of grit limping home to finish 9 seconds off last year's 2:07:10. The fact that he was the first man to run two sub 2:07:30 marathons was of little consolation to Kannouchi, "I felt the pressure of proving last year was not a fluke and I made some mental mistakes. It wasn't a normal race for me, I was in shape to run under 2:06."

Rod Dehaven was the top American finishing 15th in PR 2:13:01. The '98 USATF half-marathon champ ran five minute pace through 15 miles with compatriots Mark Coogan, Terry Mahon and John Sence, then pushed on his own after 18 miles. "We had slowed to 5:10s, so I sped up a bit," Dehaven noted, "but over the last 10K there was no one to run with, and I never felt like I was racing."

 

 

 

 

 

1998 CHICAGO MARATHON INTERACTIVE RACE MAP & REPORT 

CHICAGO HOME RACE MAP
RACE STORY
OSORO STORY
RESULTS
SPLITS
PHOTO INDEX
WOMEN's RACE REPORT