Ethiopia's Tirunesh Dibaba dusts women's field at Chicago Marathon

October 10, 2017
The 40th anniversary of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon

Runners pass through the streets of Chicago while pedestrains cheer them on during the 40th anniversary of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Oct. 8, 2017, in Chicago. (Armando L. Sanchez, Nancy Stone and Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune)

Paul SkrbinaContact ReporterChicago TribuneBrigid Kosgei spent a good portion of her Sunday morning in Tirunesh Dibaba's shadow, literally, during the Chicago Marathon.

The two — Kosgei from Kenya and Dibaba from Ethopia — ran in harmony for the first three-quarters of the race that zig-zagged through the streets of Chicago.

But Dibaba left Kosgei — and the rest of the women's field — in her dust, with just a motorcade in front of her filming her feat for posterity until she crossed the finish line in 2 hours, 18 minutes, 31 seconds.

Kosgei finished almost two minutes later to finish in 2:20.22. Jordan Hasay followed in quick fashion to finish third in 2:20.57, the second-fastest time ever by an American woman in a marathon.

Record number starts Chicago Marathon

A record number of 44,000 people started this year's Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Oct. 8, 2017. (Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune)

"I actually wasn't running against anyone," Dibaba, 32, said through an interpreter. "I was running to improve my personal best."

Dibaba had hoped history would be her story when she began the race. She wanted beat the 2:17.56 she ran when she finished second in London on April 23. She wanted to break the course record of 2:17.18, set by Paula Radcliffe in 2002. She wants Radcliffe's world record of 2:15.29.

Dibaba said she skipped the awards ceremony at the London World Championships in August after finishing second in the 10,000 meters so she could begin training for Chicago.

"I'm very happy I won," she said. "I trained very well for this. I knew if I maintained my own pace I would be able to finish in 2:17."

Dibaba began her transition from track to distance running in 2014, when she finished third in London in 2014. She took 2015 off when she and her husband had their first child.

2017 Chicago Marathon

Around 45,000 runners participated in the 2017 Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Oct. 8, 2017. (Chicago Tribune staff)

She is the world record holder in the 5,000 meters and won Olympic gold medals in the 10,000 meters in 2008 and 2012.

Running runs deep in Dibaba's family. She won her first world title when she was 18 and has set four world records. Her cousin, Deratu Tulu, won OIympic gold in the 10,000 meters in 1992 and 2000. Both of her sisters are Olympians.

She also married an Olympic medalist, Sileshi Sihine, in a wedding that was televised to a half-million people in their Ethiopian city's main square.

"I've won many races," she said. "I'm not going to be going back to the track. I'm only going to run marathons after this."


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