Khalid Khannouchi won $165,000 for winning Sunday's Chicago Marathon in world-record time. The amount was incorrect in Monday's editions. (Published 10/28/1999)
Khalid Khannouchi spent most of today's Chicago Marathon barely able to see front-runner Moses Tanui and trailed him by more than three city blocks for most of the race. But with his breath coming out as steam, eyes watering and arms pumping furiously toward the finish line, Khannouchi completed an improbable comeback and set a world record by defeating Tanui by 34 seconds.
Khannouchi, of Morocco, finished the 21st Chicago Marathon in 2 hours 5 minutes 42 seconds, beating by 23 seconds the mark set last year in Berlin by Ronaldo da Costa, who was in today's field but finished well back in the pack. But Khannouchi knew that he owed a large part of his record to Tanui for quickening the pace at the end. Tanui became the fastest second-place finisher in marathon history.
"It's the moment that I dream of, and it came true," Khannouchi, 27, said. "When I got to the finish line I was so excited and so happy. . . . [Tanui] helped me out a lot. He took a chance when he made the move at the 18-mile mark, but I didn't panic. I knew it was early, and I believed in myself."
Khannouchi started to close ground on Tanui around the 22-mile mark and passed the Kenyan as they went by a water station. Khannouchi had a slight lead as the pair entered a tunnel under the McCormick Place convention center, and for about 30 seconds, the runners couldn't be seen by anyone except a couple of race officials. But when they emerged, Khannouchi had opened a lead of almost 50 yards and was racing only for the record. He earned $165,000 for the victory, plus $100,000 for setting the world mark.
Now that he has the record, the goal for Khannouchi over the next few months will be trying to secure U.S. citizenship in time for the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney.
"I've been thinking about it for about a year now, and we've been working hard on it," he said. "If I don't get a chance to run in the Olympics as an American, I won't run."
On the women's side, Kenya's Joyce Chepchumba overcame an early fall at the 11-mile mark and outsprinted countrywoman Margaret Okayo for the victory in the last half-mile. Chepchumba won her second straight Chicago Marathon by finishing one second ahead of Okayo--the closest women's finish in Chicago history--in 2:25:59. Okayo was competing in her first marathon.
"I thought I would lose the race because I felt pain in my left leg from falling down, but I did it," Chepchumba said.
David Morris, an American who lives and trains in Japan, set a U.S. record and finished fourth in 2:09:32. Jerry Lawson's 2:09:37, set at Chicago in 1997, was the previous American record. Although seven American men have run faster times at the Boston Marathon, those times are not considered official because records can only be set on loop courses, such as Chicago's.
Cold weather at the barely post-dawn start is nothing out of the ordinary for the Chicago Marathon, and the tall buildings downtown have a tendency to create a wind-tunnel effect that makes it feel much colder. The race-time temperature was 36 degrees, but the wind chill made it feel like 20 degrees. Clouds loomed over Lake Michigan, but skies over the city were clear when the race began.
Tanui pushed ahead of the pack by about 10 seconds between miles 17 and 18, and increased his lead to about 18 seconds by the 20-mile mark.
Da Costa of Brazil stayed far back for the first eight miles. He moved to third at Mile 9, but quickly fell back and never contended again.
The Chicago Marathon is one of the fastest in the world because of its flat course and because its large prize purse attracts top runners. It is especially kind to newcomers. The last two races have been won by men competing in their first marathon--Khannouchi two years ago and former Chicago record-holder Ondoro Osoro of Kenya last year. Khannouchi finished second last year despite a left ankle injury.
Osoro was third today, about 2 1/2 minutes behind Khannouchi.