“Sir Mo” cruised toward the Chicago Marathon finish line pumping his fists and blowing air kisses to the crowd.
Mo Farah, the Great Britain star, won his first marathon in his third attempt after converting from his legacy on the track where he won four Olympic medals. His official time was 2:05:11.
Wearing bright green arm compressions, he pulled away from Mosinet Geremew of Ethiopia in the final mile. Geremew finished at 2:05:24.
Japan’s Suguru Osako finished third at 2:05:50.
American Galen Rupp failed to defend his Chicago Marathon title, falling back from the pack around Mile 23 and finishing fifth in 2:06:21.
In the women’s race, Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei won in convincing fashion at 2:18:35, the third fastest time in Chicago women’s race history and more than two minutes ahead of her closest competitor, Ethiopia’s Roza Dereje. It also was a personal best for the 24-year-old Kosgei, who finished second in last year’s marathon with a then-personal best 2:20:22, the sixth fastest.
Kosgei’s pace was 5:17. Kosgei, who finished 24th overall, has now finished first or second in eight of her nine career marathons.
Dereje finished second at 2:21:18 — 2 minutes, 43 seconds behind Kosgei — followed by fellow Ethiopian Shure Demise (2:22:15). Kenya’s Florence Kiplagat (02:22:15) appeared to be limping slightly and holding her left leg when she crossed the finish line.
Lead American Sarah Crouch led a pack of four American women who finished in the top 10. Her time of 02:32:37 was five seconds ahead of fellow American Taylor Ward and beat her personal best in a marathon, in Chicago in 2014, by seven seconds. It was 14 minutes and 2 seconds behind Kosgei’s time.
Gwen Jorgensen (02:36:23) finished 11th.
Meanwhile, it doesn’t look as if Joan Samuelson, 61, will reach her goal of breaking the world record for her age group (60-64), 3:01:30. She reached the 35K mark at 02:38:45 and was on track to finish at 03:11:24.
Champaign’s Romanchuk and Switzerland’s Schar win wheelchair races
Daniel Romanchuk, a 20-year-old from Champaign, won the men’s wheelchair marathon in an unofficial time of 1:31:34. He edged out defending champion Marcel Hug, who finished one second back. David Weir finished third at 1:31:43.
Romanchuk is coming off third-place finishes in Boston and London. He’s a member of the University of Illinois Wheelchair Racing Team.
Switzerland’s Manuela Schar won the women’s wheelchair race with an unofficial time of 1:41:38, followed by Australia’s Madison De Rozario at 1:43:16 and Urbana, Ill., resident Susannah Scaroni at 1:44:48.
University of Illinois alumna Tatyana McFadden finished seventh at 01:56:35, far off the course record she set last year at 1:39:15. McFadden finished just ahead of fellow Illini product Jenna Fesemyer (1:56:37).
Elites cross halfway point; Thweatt drops out
The elite men crossed the halfway point at 1:03:03, seeming to pick up the pace in the last few miles as they passed spectators holding umbrellas. Geoffrey Kirui and Abel Kirui, both from Kenya, led a pack of about half a dozen men. Galen Rupp, an American and the defending champion, was in third.
The group is running at a pace that projects a 2:06:07 finish.
A few minutes later, a group of five elite women were packed together at the halfway point, with Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei and Ethiopia’s Roza Dereje leading the field by a second at 1:10:09. Kosgei and Dereje were neck and neck since the 10K mark. They have an estimated finish time of 2:20:19.
Sarah Crouch leads the American women at 1:15:10 at the midpoint.
American Laura Thweatt dropped out of the race. It wasn’t immediately clear why she left the race, but officials believe she withdrew at station 7, between miles 9 and 10.
Elites setting 10k pace
The men’s 10-kilometer split was clocked at 30:11. A pack of about 10 remained together through this marker with American and defending champion Galen Rupp in about third. A drizzle began over the course with a strong headwind again around 8 a.m.
Meanwhile, the women’s 10-kilometer split clocked in at 33:24. Six of the women were grouped within a second of each other at this marker with Laura Thweatt ahead of fellow Americans Sarah Crouch and Gwen Jorgensen by a second at 35:54.
Weather doesn’t put damper on race
By Morgan Greene
Gray skies and damp air didn’t stop thousands of fans from coming out Sunday morning to show their support to runners taking on the annual Bank of America Chicago Marathon.
By early morning, the first ripples of runners were out in the streets, with participants streaming out from Grant Park. About 45,000 runners were expected to wind their way through 29 Chicago neighborhoods throughout the day in the 26.2 mile-course.
By mid-morning, 20-year-old Champaign resident Daniel Romanchuk was declared the winner of the men’s wheelchair marathon, the elite men and women were nearing the finish line and spectators still filled the sidewalks along Grand Avenue with their neon signs, life-size photos, helium balloons and ovations.
Alan Tirsun, 57, of Long Island, New York, held a rainbow unicorn balloon that he hoped his wife, running her 17th marathon, would spot.
“It’s traditional,” he said.
Kathy Trotter, 50, of Rockford, and her daughter Lauren, 22, braved the rain to support about 150 runners from Heartland Community Church.
“I just saw a woman talking on the phone and running!” said Lauren Trotter.
Also spotted in the crowd: two people in inflatable sumo wrestling suits.
“We wanted something that was easily visible,” said Nick Zivolich, 39, of Clearwater, Florida. “And it is actually protecting from the rain.”
Zivolich, who came out to support his girlfriend held a sign that said: “You’re a majestic running unicorn.”
As light rain came and went in the morning hours, hoods went up and umbrellas popped open.
Kim Murray, 34, of Toronto, let out a giant “Wooo!” as her husband ran past.
“Last year I ran New York and he was my supporter,” said Murray.
Murray held a sign that said “Keep Running You Must” with a googly-eyed Yoda on the front and a photo of her husband with a “Captain America” theme on the back.
“It’s awesome,” said Murray. “Just seeing people doing healthy things, being outside, enjoying life. I have serious FOMO.”
At the start
Rain cleared up by the 7:30 a.m. start of the Chicago Marathon, which should only help produce fast times on the flat 26.2-mile course through the city’s neighborhoods. The return of pacers in the first half should also contribute to speedy times.
The men’s field include three former champions and 11 racers who have registered times faster than 2:08.
The only dropout announced marathon morning was Andrew Bumbalough, from Oregon, who finished fifth in the Boston Marathon in April.
It was 58 degrees at the start of the race.
When 45,000 runners line up Sunday for the Chicago Marathon, there will be several elite athletes to monitor through the 26.2 miles.
The men’s field promises to churn out a blistering pace — as long as the weather holds — with Galen Rupp attempting to defend his title and possibly break the American record from 2002 of 2 hours, 5 minutes, 38 seconds. He’ll face stiff talent with many runners who have clocked times faster than 2:06.
On the women’s side, American women like Laura Thweatt, Sarah Crouch, Taylor Ward, Katie Matthews and Gwen Jorgensen (a champion triathlete new to the marathon) offer tough competition after last year’s surprise Jordan Hasay dropped out with injury.
Two-time champion Florence Kiplagat is back after dropping out of last year’s race with a thigh injury. She spent six months recuperating from an infection after an insect bite, she said.
Keep an eye on legendary runner Joan Benoit Samuelson, 61, who won the 1984 Olympics gold medal and Chicago in 1985. She is going for the age group (60-64) world record of 3:01:30.