Felix Limo and Deena Kastor Win Chicago Marathon

By Jörg Wenig

Felix Limo and Deena Kastor won the LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon. In good weather conditions the Kenyan ran 2:07:02 hours and won ahead of his countrymen Benjamin Maiyo (2:07:09) and Daniel Njenga (2:07:14). Felix Limo clocked the fastest time of the year. He improved the mark of the London Marathon winner Martin Lel (Kenya) by 24 seconds. Fourth place was taken by Evans Rutto (Kenya), who missed his goal to become the first runner ever to achieve a hat-trick at the Chicago Marathon. Rutto had won in the last two years, and in 2003 he ran the fastest marathon debut ever in 2:05:50. Now he was running 2:07:28 hours. The first ten places were taken by Kenyan runners.

In the women’s race there was a US triumph for a first time in a big marathon after many years. Besides London, Boston, Berlin and New York the Chicago Marathon is among the newly established group: the Big Five. Deena Kastor won the Chicago marathon in a world class time of 2:21:25 hours. After she was leading for most of the race, it was getting close at the finish. She was only five seconds ahead of runner up Constantina Tomescu-Dita of Romania. The third place was taken by Masako Chiba (Japan) in 2:26:00, and fourth place went to the American Colleen de Reuck (2:28:40). Both winners won a record prize money of 125,000 Dollar for this victory—it is the highest prize money ever paid at a marathon race.

The men’s race started contrary to last year’s race—a lot slower than expected. It was twelve months ago when the pacemakers were passing the 5-kilometer mark way to fast in 14:25 minutes. That was a split with an expected finishing time near to the two hours barrier. In the end Evans Rutto won in 2:06:16. This year the 5K were passed in 15:37 minutes, which would be normally an expected time of almost 2:12 hours. But the pace was picked up. The Kenyan Gilbert Okari was leading the big group of about 15 runners to a 10K split of 30:26 minutes.

Behind Gilbert Okari all the favorites were running in this high class field. Felix Limo, who has a personal best of 2:06:14 which he ran last year, and Daniel Njenga (Kenya/2:06:16) as well as 2004 Boston Marathon winner Timothy Cherigat were among the leading group. But also the Kenyans William Kipsang, James Kwambai, Benjamin Maiyo, Evans Rutto, Laban Kipkemboi and of course the second fastest runner of all times, Sammy Korir (2:04:56), were there. Evans Rutto was increasing the pace for a little while just before the 20K mark (60:08 minutes). As his team mate Gilbert Okari took over the lead again first runners were losing ground. The pace was staying fast in this phase of the race. The group passed 25 k in 1:15:00 hours, which would have been an expected finishing time of 2:06:35 hours.

Until the 35K mark (1:45:17) the leading group was reduced to five runners: Limo, Maiyo, Rutto, Njenga (Kenya) and Patrick Ivuti (Kenya). It was Ben Maiyo, who is in the same training group as Evans Rutto and is therefore also coached by Dieter Hogen, and Felix Limo, who forced the pace. In the last kilometer Felix Limo, who is managed by Jos Hermens, got away and won. “I knew it would be a tough battle,” Limo explained, “and when you know it will be tough, you don’t show people that you’re shy. You show them that you’re strong. At 40K, I looked at the faces of everybody and I felt strong so I started to move. But Maiyo resisted. So I waited until 41K.”

Ben Maiyo, who had a personal best of 2:09:45 hours and was clearly improving to 2:07:09, explained that he didn’t like the pace changes in the first part of the race. “It was like running fartlek,” Maiyo said who left his training partner Evans Rutto behind him. “He was always behind me in training,” said Evans Rutto and Mayio replied: “Racing is different to training. In racing, you have to use your head.”

In the women’s race one person was in the focus: The Olympic bronze medalist Deena Kastor. The US American wanted to run faster than her American record (2:21:16) as well as being the first American to run under 2:20 hours. “I have trained for a time of sub 2:20 hours,” said Deena Kastor.

Accordingly she was running in the lead and set the pace. She reached the 10K in 32:40 minutes, the 15K in 49:10, and the first half she passed in 69:16 minutes. Only two seconds behind was Constantina Tomescu-Dita, and ten seconds behind the Japanese Masako Chiba. All three were running to an expected time of sub 2:20 hours.

Once more Deena Kastor then forced the pace and increased her gap. But Tomescu-Dita came closer again and the high-class duel continued. After 1:38:31 hours Deena Kastor passed 30K three seconds ahead of Dita. The gap grew to 40 seconds at 35K (1:55:09). But in the last part Deena Kator lost speed and missed a sub 2:20 time as well as her American record. Finally she was lucky, because she kept only a five second gap in front of the strong running Romanian. “I wanted to run a new personal best and did it,” said Constantina Tomescu-Dita, who already won the bronze medal in Helsinki in August. And eight days before Chicago she had won the World Half Marathon Championship. “It is a great feeling to have won here. Constantina was running a big race and it was a hard fight. The last 10K I really suffered,” said Deena Kastor and added: “I would have liked to run faster, but the result is okay.”


1. Felix Limo (KEN) 2:07:02
2. Benjamin Maiyo (KEN) 2:07:09
3. Daniel Njenga (KEN) 2:07:14
4. Evans Rutto (KEN) 2:07:28
5. Patrick Ivuti (KEN) 2:07:46
6. Laban Kipkemboi (KEN) 2:09:22
7. William Kipsang (KEN) 2:09:49
8. Timothy Cherigat (KEN) 2:10:34
9. Sammy Korir (KEN) 2:10:52
10. John Gwako (KEN) 2:12:30

1. Deena Kastor (USA) 2:21:25
2. Constantina Tomescu-Dita (ROM) 2:21:30
3. Masako Chiba (JPN) 2:26:00
4. Colleen De Reuck (USA) 2:28:40
5. Eri Hayakawa (JPN) 2:28:50
6. Blake Russell (USA) 2:29:10
7. Kathy Butler (GBR) 2:30:01
8. Tatyana Petrova (USA) 2:31:03
9. Kate Smyth (AUS) 2:33:42
10. Grazyna Syrek (POL) 2:36:32