Top of the world Kosgei smashes Radeliffe's mark
Kenyan knocks off 81 seconds in Chicago British legend’s record had stood for 16 years
Brigid Kosgei broke Paula Radcliffe’s 16-year-old women’s marathon world record by a massive 81 seconds in Chicago yesterday.
The Kenyan completed the Chicago marathon in 2hr 14min 04sec just a day after Kosgei’s compatriot, Eliud Kipchoge, became the first person to run the distance in under two hours.
Kosgei, 25, set a blistering pace from the start, going through the halfway point in 1-06-59 and barely falling off the pace as she pressed on.
There were fears that the breakneck pace would tire her out too early, but she said she drew inspiration from the energetic crowd on a cool, breezy day in Chicago.
The Kenyan said she had focused all her training on beating Radcliffe’s record, set at the London marathon in 2003, but was surprised to run so fast.
“I am happy because I was not expecting this,” she said. “But I felt my body was moving, moving, moving so I went for it.”
She added that she had been inspired by her countryman’s achievement in Vienna and spent the run-up to the race telling herself she could be the “second Kipchoge”.
Unlike Kipchoge’s feat, however, Kosgei’s achievement was set in an official race on a record-eligible course.
Radcliffe was present to congratulate Kosgei at the finish line, acknowledging that it was a bittersweet moment for her. “I always knew that the time was going to come,” she said. “When I saw how fast Brigid was running in the first half of the race, I knew it was going to be broken. If you had told me when I set it in 2003 that it was going to last that long I wouldn’t have believed it.”
The Chicago Marathon is a flat, fast course which has now played host to five world records.
It was on this course that Radcliffe set her first world record, exactly 17 years to the day, with a time of 2-17-18. She went on to set a new record at the London marathon the following April which she ran in 2-15-25.
“It’s a very special day for Brigid today,” said Radcliffe.
Kosgei had set expectations going into the race with a blazing halfmarathon performance at the Great North Run last month, and finished yesterday in Chicago almost seven minutes in front of second-placed Ababel Yeshaneh, of Ethiopia.
Yesterday’s performance shaved almost four minutes off her time at this year’s London marathon, which she won in 2-18-20. But Kosgei hinted that she was hungry for more records, saying she was still working to improve on her worldbeating performance.
She even suggested a woman could one day achieve a previously unthinkable 2hr 10min finish time.
In a post-race press conference, Kosgei was asked to address the numerous doping scandals that have engulfed Kenyan athletes recently but responded: “I don’t know about other people. I don’t know about those doping and I say each and every person can run clean.”
Meanwhile, Sir Mo Farah capped off a bad week with his worst ever marathon performance in Chicago yesterday, where he had been hoping to retain his title.
The former Olympic champion finished a disappointing eighth, more than four minutes behind the winner, Lawrence Cherono, of Kenya, who finished in 2-05-45.
It was a dramatically different performance to last year, when
Farah produced a European record in Chicago, winning the race in 2-05-11. Farah had started steadily but early in the race there were signs he was struggling. By the 22mile mark, he was 2½ minutes behind the front-runner.
Farah’s training partner, Bashir Abdi, kept pace with him for a while, but the Belgian broke away in the latter stages of the race to secure
a fifth-place finish. It followed a week in which Farah had been forced to defend his relationship with his disgraced former coach Alberto Salazar, who was found guilty of a string of doping violations earlier this month.
The elite Nike Oregon Project, where Farah trained under Salazar from 2011 to 2017, also announced it would close this week under the shadow of the scandal. Going into yesterday’s race, Farah had insisted that “the marathon takes a while to learn and understand” after finishing fifth at the London Marathon in April, but his disappointing performance may prompt questions over what the future holds for the British athlete.
It was also a poor race for other Salazar-linked athletes: Americans Galen Rupp and Jordan Hasay.
Both left the race before the halfway mark due to injuries, with Rupp suffering a calf strain and Hasay suffering from hamstring pain.
The two athletes had gone into the race without a coach, since Salazar’s doping offences have earned him a four-year ban from the sport. Salazar has said he intends to appeal against that ban.
Record maker: Brigid Kosgei crosses the finish line in Chicago (right) and (left) shows off her record time