Mo Farah, the greatest track distance runner of the last decade, notched his first 26.2-mile win, taking the Chicago Marathon on Sunday.
Farah, a four-time Olympic champion between the 5000m and 10,000m, clocked 2:05:11 in the rain, smashing the European record of 2:05:48. He won by 13 seconds, kicking away from Ethiopian Mosinet Geremew in the last mile.
Pre-race favorites American Galen Rupp (2:06:21) and Geoffrey Kirui of Kenya (2:06:45) were fifth and sixth.
“We wasn’t sure about the pace because conditions wasn’t great. Everybody was thinking about position, not time,” Farah said. “I could have gone a lot faster.”
Kenyan Brigid Kosgei won the women’s race in 2:18:35. Ethiopians Roza Dereje and Shure Demise were second and third in 2:21:18 and 2:22:15, respectively.
The event lost luster after Jordan Hasay, the second-fastest U.S. female marathoner ever, and 2017 World bronze medalist Amy Cragg withdrew beforehand for health reasons.
Gwen Jorgensen, the 2016 Olympic triathlon champion, was 11th in 2:36:23 in her second marathon and first since switching sports last year. Jorgensen must drop significantly into the 2:20s at the 2020 Olympic Trials for a chance at the three-woman team for Tokyo.
MORE: Chicago Marathon Results
In his third career marathon, Farah padded his argument as one of the greatest runners in history. Farah won 10 Olympic and world titles between 5000m and 10,000m from 2011 through 2017 before moving full-time to the marathon.
Farah debuted at 26.2 miles in 2014, placing eighth in London in 2:08:21, then went back to track racing. In his return to the marathon in April, he was third in London in 2:06:21, breaking the British record.
Farah noted he was ranked eighth in the Chicago field by personal best going into the race.
“I think I was expected definitely to finish in the top three. That was the aim,” he said.
Farah has ways to go to scale marathoning like he did track racing. Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge has been in a class of his own for a few years, most recently smashing the world record in Berlin three weeks ago in 2:01:39.
“Eliud’s definitely a better athlete, in the marathon,” Farah said, adding that he’ll probably race the London Marathon again in April (which Kipchoge also usually races). “Depends on what happens next couple of years, if he slows down or if he continues to keep going up, running certain times. But I’m not afraid of turning up in the same field as him, race against him, test him out.”
Farah is firmly in the second tier. So is Rupp.
Rupp, who formerly trained with Farah, dropped from the leaders around mile 19. Rupp earned the Rio Olympic marathon bronze medal and last year became the first U.S. male runner to win Chicago since 2002.
“My goal was to win, but I ran as best as I could,” Rupp said. “I just got to give credit to Mo and all the other guys that beat me.”
Kirui was shed from the leading group near mile 20. Kirui won the 2017 Boston Marathon, edging Rupp, and the 2017 World title.
Jorgensen, 32, said a pre-race goal was to not go faster than 5:40/mile pace (or a 2:28:34 marathon). She started at 5:47/mile and slowed significantly around mile 20 and finished struggling at 6:48/mile pace.
“I am, I’d say gutted, very disappointed,” Jorgensen said, adding that she had a fever all week but has raced really well while ill before.
She found husband Pat Lemieux and told him, “Oh my goodness, I’m really questioning what the heck I’m doing,” referencing leaving triathlon at the top of the sport for the marathon challenge. Jorgensen lacked motivation in Olympic-distance triathlon after winning everything and did not want to follow other Olympic medalists to the Ironman distance.
Given time to reflect, she forges ahead. Jorgensen remembered that she was lapped out of her first World Triathlon Series race in 2011 and then finished second two races later.
“I was able to get up to 120 miles a week [in training],” she said, noting a positive. “Earlier in the year I couldn’t even hit 100. I feel like I’m trending in the right way.”
American Tatyana McFadden‘s streak of Chicago Marathon wheelchair titles ended at seven straight. The 17-time Paralympic medalist finished seventh, nearly 15 minutes behind Swiss winner Manuela Schar.
Daniel Romanchuk, a 20-year-old American, won his first major marathon wheelchair title, edging Swiss Marcel Hug by one second in 1:31:34.
The fall major marathon season concludes with the New York City Marathon on Nov. 4.
The New York fields are led by defending champions Shalane Flanagan (the first U.S. female runner to win the five-borough race in 40 years) and Kenyan Geoffrey Kamworor. Also entered: Boston Marathon winner Des Linden, two-time track Olympian Molly Huddle and 43-year-old Bernard Lagat, a five-time track Olympian in his marathon debut.
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