(Reuters) - Galen Rupp became the first American to win the Chicago Marathon in 15 years and Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba ran away with the women’s race on Sunday.
Olympic bronze medalist Rupp used his track speed to break open the men’s race in the last five km to finish in a lifetime best two hours, nine minutes and 20 seconds in only his fourth marathon.
“It’s just incredible,” said Rupp, who took advantage of the race’s slow early pace to win, surging in the 38th km to take control.
“I made the mistake in the past of going a little too hard too soon,” said Rupp, the U.S. record holder at 10,000 meters on the track.
“But I just felt a little gap pulling away and at that point, it was like you’ve got to put the hammer down and drive to the finish.”
Defending champion Abel Kirui of Kenya, who was with Rupp at the time, could not keep pace.
“It is a huge win for his career, for the United States,” four-times Chicago winner Khalid Khannouchi, the last American to triumph in 2002, told NBC Chicago. “He has a bright future.”
Kirui finished second in 2:09:48 with countryman Bernard Kipyego third in 2:10:23.
Dibaba, a world record holder on the track, won her first marathon in 2:18.31.
“The entire 42 km pretty much I was leading,” said Dibaba, the London Marathon runner-up and three-time Olympic champion on the track.
She had hoped to challenge Briton Paula Radcliffe’s 2003 world record of 2:15:25 on the flat course.
But doing it without pacemakers is difficult, she said.
“In order to break a world record it is generally helpful to have pacemakers,” the 32-year-old mother said.
Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei, the only runner to stay with Dibaba for much of the race, was a distant second in 2:20:22 with American Jordan Hasay third in 2:20:57.
Tatyana McFadden pipped American compatriot Amanda McGrory to win her seventh consecutive Chicago women’s wheelchair title and eighth overall.
McFadden, who had suffered blood clots before the Boston Marathon, and McGrory both were timed in 1:39:15 with Swiss Manuela Schar third (1:39:17).
Swiss Paralympic gold medalist Marcel Hug dominated the men’s wheelchair race, defending his title in 1:29:23. Australian Kurt Fearnley claimed second in 1:30:24 narrowly defeating Spain’s Jordi Madera Jimenez.
Reporting by Gene Cherry in Salvo, North Carolina; Editing by Toby Davis