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2013 Bank of America Chicago Marathon - Women's Race
by John Elliott
The Chicago Marathon has been a good course for women - with Paula Radcliffe having run some of her best times on the course and both Liliya Shobukhova and Catherine Ndereba having set their best times on the course. And while there were no women who could compete to better the times of those legends, the Chicago Marathon had put together a strong field with four or five women who could compete well for the win and another four or five who could be expected to perform well in the top ten.
photo: Sean Hartnett
Rita Jeptoo en route to victory
The 2012 Chicago Marathon had come down to a sprint finish with Atsede Baysa nipping Rita Jeptoo to win by the closest margin in Chicago Marathon history: 2:22:03 to 2:22:04. The 2013 Chicago Marathon looked to be a repeat of that race with those two women being the favorites. Added to the field was Merima Mohammed who had run 2:23:06 at the 2010 Toronto Waterfront marathon, but more impressively in 2013 had consistently run just off of those times to a win at the 2013 Houston Marathon (2:23:37) in terrible conditions and a runner-up finish at the 2013 Paris Marathon (2:23:14). With that consistency and those times, Mohammed was expected in the mix and to be a contender. Jemima Sumgong with a 2:23:27 earlier in 2013 was also on everyone's list for a top finish.
The women's race began with the competitors running a pace to get them to a finish in the high 2:22/low 2:23 range. At this pace, nine women were in the lead pack at the 10K mark (33:50) and even through to the halfway mark in 1:15:57. Following the halfway mark, Worknesh Kidane missed her water bottle and went back for it, never regaining the lead pack and Merima Mohammed began to slow and would later drop back.
Through 16 miles, the women were continuing on a 5:26 average pace, but after that point Rita Jeptoo began to push the pace with only Jemima Sumgong able to keep up. The next miles were passed in 5:21, 5:15, 5:15, 5:10, 5:09 - and suddenly the race was on target for a sub-2:21 finish. The 22nd mile was slightly slower at 5:15, but after Jeptoo turned up the heat and began to outrun her only remaining competition with the fastest miles of the race: 5:07, 5:05, 5:09.
The final miles of the 2013 Chicago Marathon ultimately became a celebration for Rita Jeptoo and a watch to see if she could break 2:20, which she ultimately did winning in 2:19:57 - a 1:11:15 first half followed by an incredible 1:08:42 second half.... Jemima Sumgong ran a great race to a new personal best and runner-up finish of 2:20:48, also in a negative split, but was overshadowed by Jeptoo. Maria Konolova, at 39 the oldest woman in the elite field, took the third spot in a personal best time of 2:22:46.
The top 10 finishers:
1. Rita Jeptoo (KEN) 2:19:57 - $100,000 + $40,000
2. Jemima Sumgong Jelegat (KEN) 2:20:48 - $50,000 + $25,000
3. Maria Konovalova (RUS) 2:22:46 - $25,000 + $10,000
4. Aliaksandra Duliba (BLR) 2:23:44 - $15,000
5. Atsede Baysa (ETH) 2:26:42 - $10,000
6. Ehitu Kiros Reda (ETH) 2:27:42
7. Yukiko Akaba (JPN) 2:27:49
8. Abebech Afework (ETH) 2:28:38
9. Clara Santucci (USA) 2:31:39 - $10,000 + $2,500
10. Melissa White (USA) 2:32:37 - $7,500 + $2,500
Other Top Americans (Trials Qualifiers)
11. Laurie Knowles (USA) 2:36:29 - $5,000 + $2,500
12. Stephanie Pezzullo (USA) 2:38:04 - $2,500 + $2,500
13. Gina Slaby (USA) 2:40:45 - $1,000 + $2,500
15. Elizabeth Eder (USA) 2:42:37 - $2,500
16. Erin Heenan (USA) 2:42:47 - $2,500