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Chicago Marathon 2012 - Women's Field Bios
By Sharon Ekstrom
Liliya Shobukhova |
Lucy Kabuu |
Atsede Baysa |
Ejegayehu Dibaba |
Liliya Shobukhova (Russia)
photo: Victah Sailer / Photo Run
PB: 2:18:20, 2011 Chicago Marathon
Liliya Shobukhova, is no stranger to big city marathons or the Chicago Marathon field....This three-time Chicago Marathon Champion and Russian national record holder, returns to the Windy City attempting a fourth win.
Having built her reputation on the track in the 1500m, 3000m and 5000m, she burst upon the marathon scene with a debut of 2:24:24 (3rd place) at the 2009 London Marathon. This was an unexpected surprise as she expected to run one to three minutes slower.
She followed up with a victory at the 2009 Chicago Marathon in 2:25:56. Her winning strategy came down to an incredible surge in the final mile of the race clocking 4:35 (the fastest mile in the race) - besting veteran marathoner champions of London (the 2009 champion who had beaten her months earlier), Houston and Boston Marathons.
For 2010, Shobukhova returned to London, once again taking on a strong field of Russian and Ethiopian talent. Duplicating her finish in Chicago, Shobukhova unhampered by the rain, once again sped to victory in the last mile of the race (2:22:25), proving her signature to be a devastating finishing kick.
Shobukhova had shown solid consistency with each marathon performance, proving herself to be the best female marathoner that year. And with the mix of her speed, strategy and patience, she took an easy victory of the 2010 Chicago Marathon field in 2:20:25 setting a Russian national record. She also won the WMM prize purse for 2009/2010. Next on her agenda was to break the 2:20 barrier.
At the 2011 London Marathon, Shobukhova attempted to take her fourth consecutive marathon victory; but after an incredibly fast start, she didn't have the wherewithall to catch Mary Keitany, who ran off with a victory at mile 14...a similar strategy Shobukhova had used in the past. This would not discourage her as she returned once again to the Chicago Marathon field ready to erase the blemish of a second place finish off her resume.
Shobukhova did just that. While she was a favorite to win with the fastest marathon finish of the elite crowd, she did not play down her competitive spirit. She wanted an incredibly fast finish and achieved just that - 2:18:20. This victory made her the second fastest female marathoner alive behind Paula Radcliffe and while she was still almost one minute under marathon world record holder Radcliffe's best Chicago finish, she had just raised the bar in female marathon finishes breaking 2:19 for the first time since 2005. And making history as one of only three women have ever run 2:18 or faster joining Radcliffe and Catherine “the Great” Ndereba. (Since then, in 2012 Mary Keitany and Tiki Gelana have joined the ranks as well.)
Since then 2012 has not gone well for the Russian. Rumors swirled that she succumbed to injury, forcing her out of the 2012 NYC Half Marathon, 2012 Chicago Shamrock Shuffle, 2012 London Marathon and the 2012 London Olympics! What could this mean for her training? We'll find out as race day for the 2012 Chicago Marathon approaches.
Why? Shobukhova is a veteran of the Chicago Marathon course. She has become one of the top marathoners in the world and has consistently performed well and pushed the envelope delivering faster times. In any field she remains a threat even if she is racing against a clock. How could she not be a favorite?
Lucy Kabuu (Kenya)
photo: Victah Sailer / Photo Run
PB: 2:19:34, 2012 Dubai Marathon
Lucy Kabuu, a two-time 10000m Olympian from Kenya, had just completed her first full marathon in January when she ran the 2012 Dubai Marathon. She had been a top junior athlete who trained during her high school years in Japan - something the late Sammy Wanjiru also had the fortune of experiencing - mixing the best of both worlds - genetic talent with Japanese coaching.
In 2003 she set a Kenyan junior 10000m record spent 2004 through 2008 collecting accolades in the distance. She attempted her first marathon at the 2007 Osaka Marathon, but failed to finish. Kabuu returned to the 10000m. And at the 2008 Beijing Olympics she placed 7th in a personal best of 30:39.96. And while she took time off in 2009 and 2010 nursing an achilles injury then having her first child, Kabuu returned to racing at the 2011 Great North Run where she was victorious in 67:06. She followed up with a 67:04 at the 2011 New Delhi Half two months later, becoming 13th fastest female half marathoner of all-time and one of few women currently racing at such levels.
Next for her was her Dubai Marathon debut in 2:19:34, one of the fastest debuts ever but took second place losing by three seconds to Aselefech Mergia. Kabuu remained a London Olympic hopeful and as her fellow Kenyan compatriots, went to race the 2012 London Marathon seeking a faster time/Olympic berth in her third career marathon attempt. In what would be one of the toughest Kenyan dominated women's fields assembled, Kabuu like the others were broken by Mary Keitany's continued breakneck pace after the halfway mark which earned her a 2:18 finish. Kabuu finished 5th (2:23:12), not enough for a spot on Kenya's Olympic Marathon Team. Kabuu went to Eugene where the Kenyans were choosing their qualifiers for the 10000m, her former specialty as a two-time Olympian who finished in the top ten in Athens and Beijing. She failed to finish the event.
Why? Kabuu is a rising star in the distance. Having had only two marathons under the belt and a having been 4 seconds off a potential victory at the Dubai Marathon, she could be a major player on race day. And, undoubtably, her 2:19:34 finish makes her second fastest the marathon field.
Atsede Baysa (Ethiopia)
photo credit: Victah Sailer / Photo Run
PB: 2:22:04, 2010 Paris Marathon
Returning to the 2012 Chicago Marathon field is Atsede Bayisa, the two-time winner of the Paris Marathon (2009 and 2010). This Ethiopian veteran in the distance has eighteen career marathons to her resume and 16 top-ten finishes. Unlike some of her nations other star distance runners, Bayisa did not have a decorated early career on the track or in cross country. She focused predominantly on the roads and debuted at the 2006 Nagano Marathon in 2:39:31 (5th place), hardly a time to take note of.
She followed with nearly three years of average marathon performances averaging in the 2:30 range. Yet, suddenly, at the 2009 Paris Marathon she won in 2:24:42. The performance made her worthy enough to be selected to represent Ethiopia at the 2009 Berlin World Championship Marathon. Bayisa finished 26th in 2:36:04 in the warmer temperatures of the midday race. She then followed up with 2:32:05 in her fourth marathon of the year - the 2009 Frankfurt Marathon, finishing 7th in 2:32:05.
Bayisa entered 2010 on a high note with a victory at the Xiamen Marathon (2:28:53) in January and she went on to win Paris Marathon in April. She clocked a personal best of 2:22:04. She rounded out the year in Chicago where she took a lead and broke up the elite pack with a surge at mile 15. It was almost too good to be true; but she succumbed to the warm conditions and faded having gone out too quickly and expended too much energy in her surge. At mile 22, she was passed by Liliya Shobukhova who was running a steady race and unable to match Shobukhova's kick. Bayisa finished in second with a 2:23:40.
Bayisa was back to her three marathons per year regimen in 2011 at Dubai (2:25:08 - 5th place), London (2:23:50) and the World Championships in Daegu (2:31:37 - 14th place). And began 2012 once again in Dubai (2:23:13 - 8th place) following up with London (2:25:59 - 9th place). Her third marathon of the year will once again be in Chicago rivaling Shobukhova who has not raced a marathon in one year. Anything can happen.
Why? While her 2:22:04 personal best from the 2010 Paris Marathon remains an decent elite time, race performances by the likes of Shobukhova, Keitany, Gelana, Mergia, Kabuu and Edna and Florence Kiplagat are forcing other elite women to push for finishes under 2:20. Bayisa will have to step up her game if she is to remain competitive in these fields. And at 25, Bayisa still has time to tweak her talents.
Ejegayehu Dibaba (Ethiopia)
photo credit: Victah Sailer / Photo Run
PB: 2:22:09, 2011 Chicago Marathon
Ejegayehu Dibaba has what it takes to be an incredible marathoner. Dibaba made a name for herself on the track through the years - stand outs include a silver medal from the 2004 Athens Games in the 10000m and double bronze medals at the 2005 World Championships in the 5000m and 10000m! She also hails from one of the most famous families of female Ethiopian distance runners that includes Tirunesh Dibaba and Derartu Tulu - who dominated track and cross country for the past decade and collected accolades at various international championships events.
Her younger sister Tirunesh Dibaba (double gold medalist from the 2008 Beijing Games in the 5000m and 10000m, gold medalist at the 2012 London Games in 10000m and bronze medalist in 5000m and bronze medalist in the 5000m at the 2004 Athens Games). Her cousin Derartu Tulu (two-time Olympic gold medalist in the 10000m in 1992 & 2000 and bronze medalist from 2004) won the 2001 Tokyo Marathon, 2001 London Marathon and 2009 New York City Marathon, proving that the running talents can transfer to the marathon distance when the time comes. And that time has come for Dibaba to see what she can do on the roads.
She debuted at the 2011 Chicago Marathon finishing in 2:22:09, runner-up behind Liliya Shobukhova. Not bad for a debut. But 2012 has been rather quiet. She failed to finish the 2012 London Marathon and seems to have not raced all year.
Why? Dibaba has the speed and endurance of a great marathoner. She has followed in the footsteps of many top women who have transitioned from decorated 10000m track stars to the 26.2 mile. And if her debut is indicative of her abilities, we can hope that the time off has provided what she needs to attack the 2012 Chicago Marathon field with fresh legs and give Shobukhova a formidable challenger.
photo credit: Victah Sailer / Photo Run
Worknesh Kidane (Ethiopia)
PB: 2:26:15, 2011 Boston Marathon
Worknesh Kidane of Ethiopia has already had an illustrious running career from track to cross country to the roads spanning over a decade. Kidane was a standout in junior level competitions in the 3,000, 5,000m and 10,000m; as well as in cross country. Her accolades include five medals at the World Cross Country Championships, silver medal from the 2003 World Championships 10,000m, a 4th place from the 2004 Athens Olympic 10,000m and top 3 finishes at a number of road races ranging from 5K to the Half Marathon.
Kidane took time off racing and running in 2006-2008 to focus on her family. And in 2010 she returned to racing - along with the mix of cross-country, she earned four top 4 finishes on the roads - winning the Great Manchester 10K (31:19), 3rd at the NYRR Women's Mini 10K (personal best 31:18), 3rd at the Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon (68:31) and 4th at the London 5K (15:35).
While injury kept her from a marathon debut along with her husband Gebre Gebremariam at the 2010 New York City Marathon, she debuted months later - running a 2:27:15 at the 2011 Dubai Marathon and continued to have a string of personal bests and victories in races through the year. To further test her fitness prior to the 2011 Boston Marathon, she finished in 5th place (69:32) at the 2011 New York City Half Marathon. She then ran the 2011 Boston Marathon in a 2:26:15 personal best and followed with victories at the Peachtree 10K Road race and the Diamond League 10000m in Birmngham later that summer.
Going into the 2011, she finished second at the Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half in a personal best of 67:26; but faltered at the 2011 New York City Marathon where she finished 13th in 2:33:08. Rather than walk away from the distance, Kidane retooled. She headed back to the track which may be slightly different compare to other marathoners who tend to transition away from the track for good. Kidane’s weakness has always been holding onto the final miles of the marathon and being able to surge and outkick her competition (unlike her husband 2010 New York City Marathon winner Gebre Gebremariam).
In 2012 Kidane was 4th at the 5000m at the Diamond League New York meet, 4th at the 10000m Prefontaine meet, winner of the Aviva 10000m Birmingham meet (simultaneously held the British Olympic Trials) and 4th in the 10000m at the 2012 Olympic Games. If Kidane is in good health, we may see what she is really capable of on the roads of Chicago.
Why? Worknesh Kidane was a name that is well known on the track circuit. A veteran of long distance running, she has the mental fortitude and the strategy to pull off an amazing marathon performance. There is no telling what Kidane is capable of in Chicago following over half a year of speedwork, but this veteran runner has enough to have a surprise in store.