Both Galen Rupp and Jordan Hasay clearly read the script for the 40 year celebrations at Chicago with the former becoming the first American man to win the event since 2002, while Hasay, in what was just her second ever marathon, took third in a top quality field that included Tirunesh Dibaba, the eventual winner.
Close to 45,000 runners competed in the anniversary event and took on a course that provided a whirlwind tour of Chicago, weaving through the 29 neighbourhoods of the city. The race started and finished in Grant Park, first heading north through the Loop, River North, Lincoln Park and Lakeview, then west past Greektown, the United Center and UIC before heading south through Chinatown, Bridgeport and the South Loop.
The opening few miles saw Rupp in a pack that included the defending champion Abel Kirui and world record holder Dennis Kimetto. With the leading runners passing through halfway at around 1:06, the pace was relatively slow for a Major and only really picked up in the last few miles when Rupp consolidated his lead over Kirui – the American ran his 41st kilometre in 2:38, the fastest of the race, and ensured he achieved a sizable negative split and final time of 2:09:20.
On his strategy for the race, Rupp reflected: “Coming in, talking to my coaches, my plan was to be invisible for the first 20, 22 miles. Here I think it was really important for me to sit back, relax and conserve energy.”
Hasay, who occasionally trains with Rupp, put in an exceptional performance in what was only her second ever marathon. The 26-year-old slashed more than two minutes off her PB to finish third in 2:20:57.
Hasay managed to stay with Dibaba until the half way mark but the Ethiopian gradually pulled away and looked composed throughout. Her 5k splits were close to metronomic, from 20k to 35k she ran 16:24, 16:29 and 16:22, helping her achieve a winning time of 2:18:31. Brigid Kosgei took second in a PB time of 2:20:22, with Hasey following.
It is estimated that close to 1.7 million spectators lined the streets to cheer on runners in what turned out to be a picture perfect race day. The marathon has seen its stock rise from having around 4,000 runners in 1977 to more than ten times that number on Sunday (8 October).
Demand for the marathon always outweighs the number of places available – Sports Tours International offer excellent packages for the event and have already opened up a waiting list for 2018 entrants, more information is available here.