Chicago Marathon report cards: The big winners and losers
For this morning’s edition of Takes Like Coffee, I’ve decided to format it as a report card for the 2017 Chicago Marathon that took place on Sunday, October 8. This was the first year since 2012 that I was not in attendance for the race and I missed it dearly, especially because of the fantastic races that took place and the history that came along with it.
Onto the grades…
Galen Rupp: A
Rupp made history by becoming the first American-born winner of the Chicago Marathon since Greg Meyer in 1982. He is the first American to win since Khalid Khannouchi won in 2002. (Khannouchi was born in Morocco.) His winning time of 2:09:18 was a personal best and I think it was perfectly executed for him. I was texting a friend of mine during the race and we mentioned how this race was looking so much like the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials. Rupp was even wearing the white NOP singlet with the holes in it. The final 10K became a track race. My friend said, “They all ran his race. It was like a Mo Farah 10k. No one willing to go for it,” and I kind of agree with that statement. Maybe East Africans don’t get as fazed by Rupp as they maybe do with Farah, but I certainly think this was a statement win. He’s got bronze from Rio, a runner-up finish in Boston and now the victory in Chicago. They better take notice because he’s here to stay for the marathon. I was particularly intrigued by his post-race comments where he said that he wanted to be relaxed for the first 20 miles before laying the hammer down. It worked to perfection because he dropped a 2:50 in the 35th kilometer to break defending champion Abel Kirui. So what’s next for Rupp? I assume that he’s going to get a nice pay day from Boston to return and try to improve upon his second place finish from last year. I’d say that if there’s any chance he goes to London to chase a fast time then it would be pretty slim. They already have Farah lined up and I’d assume they try to get Eliud Kipchoge unless they’re really trying to water down the field for a Farah victory – which would be pretty pathetic.
Watch some of the highlights from the race below:
Tirunesh Dibaba: B+
She said she wanted to break Paula Radcliffe’s course record and maybe set a personal best and she fell short of both those goals. The winning time of 2:18:31 is still very impressive. Dibaba winning wasn’t a surprise. She was my pre-race pick to win. I think she gets major kudos for taking it out hard from the 5K, when they were at 2:16 pace. Dibaba was in control of this race from the start. There was a point where she didn’t like that people were just drafting off her so she zig-zagged and wanted to shake them off. It all worked. Five women including Jordan Hasay were still alive by the half marathon mark. By the 20th mile, it was two-woman race and very quickly thereafter, she was all alone. I’ll be excited for the Mary Keitany vs. Tirunesh Dibaba rematch in London, if it happens. Money will talk but I could totally see Dibaba possibly wanting to test out the Tokyo course because it’s also very fast.
We could do a whole other post on the GOAT conversation for the women because arguing that always seems to be fun for track fans. It’s pretty clear that Dibaba holds the title on the track and has taken very well to the marathon. This is her second sub-2:20 in three marathon attempts. Her formula to getting success to translate onto the roads looks a lot like Eliud Kipchoge’s.
Jordan Hasay: A+
Hasay has also found the marathon and is thriving really quickly. She exceeded all expectations by making the podium in Boston and then she absolutely crushed her personal best to become just the second American woman under 2:21 and second-fastest of all-time. Her 2:20:57 is the fastest marathon by an American woman on American soil. I honestly feared for the worst seeing Hasay go out on Dibaba’s heels when they were on 2:17 pace. I tweeted that she could run the American record but it would be easy. Someone asked, ‘Well, is there any easy way of setting an American record?’ which is true but I figure it’s gotta be less painful to run a negative split than really go out aggressively and hold on for dear life knowing that you’re to positive split. We’ve been excited for Shalane Flanagan’s American record hopes for several years and it could be time to transfer that excitement over from Flanagan to Hasay. That’s not saying that Flanagan is done. Hasay is currently the best American marathoner. Did I think I’d be writing that so soon? Probably not, but it’s good for American distance running.
Brigid Kosgei: A+
Who saw four-minute personal best coming? Kosgei entered the race with a personal best of 2:24:45 from the Lisbon Marathon. She’s not young for a Kenyan newcomer. She’s 37 years old. She’s been running the marathon since 2015 with wins in Milan and Honolulu in 2016. She just started making her way onto the World Marathon Majors scene and took eighth in Boston. Not sure how many more great races we’ll have from Kosgei because of her age but that also hasn’t stopped Edna Kiplagat from faring well. The marathon is wonky like that. Regardless, she was the last woman standing against Dibaba.
Abel Kirui: B+
With 10K remaining in the race, Kirui was Rupp’s last challenger. That’s just before the big move happened at 35K and he couldn’t respond. It was a very good race for the 2016 champion. He still busted out a couple dance moves after crossing the finish line. Training with Eliud Kipchoge and Patrick Sang has paid off.
Dennis Kimetto: D-
The only reason Kimetto doesn’t get an F here is because he actually started the race and looked comfortable through the first half. That quickly changed. It looked like he got a flat tire. I’m sure you’ve seen the .gif of Homer Simpson retreating into he bushes but that’s kind of what happened around 25K. He was toward the front of the lead pack and then just started limping toward the back until the pack swallowed him. I saw couple elites turn to each other and maybe said something like, “Well that was weird.” The next shot on the broadcast was an aerial view of Kimetto limping behind the leaders. The pace wasn’t anything crazy where it was taking its toll on other runners. It was the opposite. There was still a pack of 25+ men all together. The post-world record curse continues for Kimetto. He had one good race in London 2015 and that’s been it. It looks more like he’ll have a post-world record career more like Patrick Makau than like Wilson Kipsang.
Chris Derrick: B+
A very solid debut by someone who many running junkies have always been itching to find out what he could run for the marathon. The answer for his debut? 2:12:50. I hate talking about “brands” but I guess it is important in a sport like track and field or the marathon where you have to make yourself stand out as an athlete to make some money. Derrick got a lot of love on the broadcast. I tweeted about him when he took the lead at about 17 miles and it was one of the most popular tweets from my feed.
He told our very own Scott Olberding that he wanted something in 65-minute range for the first half and that’s pretty much what he got. There was a huge pack and then he made his move. Those last couple miles could always use some help but for his very first one, I’d say it was pretty solid. I don’t want to get too caught up in the 2020 Marathon Trials picture just yet but Derrick knows that his future is going to be in this distance.
Aaron Braun: B+
Braun was the early leader in the men’s race and got quite a bit of TV time. Sarah Cotton, who is working on the One Eighty Three Point Four film definitely got some great footage that we’re looking forward to seeing. He missed a personal best but it was a huge step forward in his career. This was his first marathon under Ben Rosario and NAZ Elite and his 2:13:41 shows that he’s certainly not done.
Noah Droddy: B
Some props here to Droddy, who is a fan and follower of the site. I saw him toward the back of that huge pack just snatching sponges from the sideline so he knows how to keep cool. This was a whole lot better than the marathon trials because he got through it. I think he had a great attitude after his 2:16:26 for 19th place. Here’s what he tweeted: “I am a marathoner. Not yet the marathoner I know I can be, but we’ll get there. I ran a strong 20, but you all weren’t lying about that last 10k. Finished in 2:16. I’m a little disappointed, but that will pass. Thank you for the love. Chicago – Kingston Mines tonight?” Hope the blues club was fun.
If you haven’t already, listen to Stephen Kersh’s short chat with Droddy:
Feyisa Lilesa: C
The post-Olympics struggle for Lilesa. When I talked to him at his home in Flagstaff, he told he was trying to sort out some cramping issues in his calf. Haven’t checked in with his camp to find out exactly what happened but I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case. It’s also interesting to me that while there’s so many advances for the marathon right now with footwear and the special drinks that everyone’s taking. Lilesa told me something that was pretty wild. While everyone has these fancy drinks during the race, all he drinks from those bottles is water. That’s been the case for a while and he’s started almost 20 marathons so it’s worked before. Can’t point to the cramping to be tied to his hydration but something been up and it’s a shame.
Florence Kiplagat: D
Kiplagat was a victim of Dibaba’s hot pace and ended up dropping out. She missed out some history. Becoming the first woman to win three Chicago Marathon titles will have to wait another day.
Zersenay Tadesse: C+
Tadese will forever be tied to the Breaking2 Project. He was able to shave three minutes off his personal best there but it was hard to watch since he went out in sub-two pace and then just faded HARD. So this marked the second Breaking2 alum to attempt a normal marathon. It went super well with Eliud Kipchoge winning in Berlin. Tadese not so much. He ran 2:12:19, which means that he still can’t put together a solid marathon. It’s not for everyone but we had higher hopes for the half marathon world record holder.
Matt Centrowitz: Incomplete
Hasay and Rupp weren’t the only Nike Oregon Project runners in Sunday’s marathon. The Olympic 1,500 meter champion was also in the race and used the first half as a workout. He ran 1:18:36 for the first half and dropped out after 25K.
A Citwit sent us the following video:
Matthew Centrowitz made his marathon debut today.
Went through half in 1:18:36
DNF after 25K.
(Shout-out to Citwit @bradey_brodsky for sending us the video.) pic.twitter.com/vomqt0dWDt
— CITIUS MAG (@CitiusMag) October 8, 2017
The only weird thing is that he’s registered under his father’s name. It was probably a harmless error by someone but I still think that it would be funny to see an age-group record set for the 62-year-old Centrowitz. Paging Marathon Investigator…