Long-distance runner Brigid Kosgei of Kenya on Monday snapped the marathon world record of England's Paula Radcliffe to become the fastest women to run in the Chicago Marathon.
Kosgei won the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Gold Label road race in two hours, 14 minutes amd four seconds to break the mark of 2:15:25 set by Radcliffe in the London Marathon.
Kosgei's run came a little more than a day after fellow Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge became the first man to cover 26.2 miles under two hours, clocking 1:59:41 in Vienna. However, Kipchoge's achievement was not count as world record as it was an unofficial marathon.
Kosgei, who won in Chicago last year in 2:18:35 and improved her personal best to 2:18:20 to win in London earlier this year, set out at a blisteringly fast pace to cover the first five kilometers in 15:28. Ababel Yeshaneh of Ethiopia was dragged through the section in a swift 15:36 with Gelete Burka a further 27 seconds in arrears.
However, the Kenyan saw a slight drop in her pace after that initial enthusiasm but the 25-year-old settled into regular 16-minute splits for each five-kilometre segment. She went through 10 km in 31:28 and 15km in 47:26. At that point, she was almost a minute ahead of Yeshaneh, who herself was on schedule for a 2:16:00 finish at that point.
Kosgei’s half-way split of 1:06:59 suggested a finishing time of about 2:14:00. But after five kilometres, Kosgei lead over Yeshaneh had grown to two minutes, reaching 25km in 1:19:33. As she continued to run behind two male pacemakers, Kosgei added another minute to her lead thanks to a 15:45 split between 25km and 30km.
Another sub-16-minute five-kilometre segment followed, this time 15:56, and her 35km split (1:51:14) still indicated a finishing time about a minute inside Paula Radcliffe’s world record of 2:15:25, set 16 years ago. Given the speed she was going and how far into the race she was, she looked relatively comfortable too.
Nearly four-and-a-half minutes behind, Yeshaneh had a 33-second margin over Burka but both women were also on course for a personal best.
The race, though, was all about Kosgei’s world record attempt and she showed no signs of fading in the closing stages. The pace makers peeled away before the final two miles as Kosgei forged on alone.
With about 20 seconds left of running, she couldn’t help but smile as she realised the magnitude of what she was about to achieve. Moments later, she crossed the line in 2:14:04 to take 81 seconds off the longest-standing marathon world record – men’s or women’s – in the post-war era.
Lawrence Cherono, winner of this year's Boston Marathon, won a close men's contest in 2:05:45. Ethiopia's Dejene Debela was second in 2:05:46 and Asefa Mengstu was third in 2:05:48.