Ethiopia's Kebede sets course record in Chicago Marathon

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Ethiopia's Kebede sets course record in Chicago Marathon

CHICAGO (AP) Tsegaye Kebede saw a few Ethiopian flags as he approached the finish line and figured he'd say hello.

So he started waving.

Kebede had plenty to celebrate in his course-record win Sunday in the Chicago Marathon.

He pulled away late and was all alone, smiling to fans as he neared the finish at Grant Park and crossing the line in 2 hours, 4 minutes, 38 seconds. That easily eclipsed the previous mark of 2:05:37 set by Kenya's Moses Mosop last year and was more than enough to beat countrymen Feyisa Lilesa (2:04:52) and Tilahun Regassa (2:05:28).

"This is a great day for us, for Ethiopia, especially," Kebede said.

Atsede Baysa made it a sweep for the country with a thrilling win in the women's race, edging Kenya's Rita Jeptoo by about a step. The two traded leads down the stretch, with Jeptoo briefly grabbing it as they turned into Grant Park and Baysa quickly regaining it.

She kept looking over her shoulder during the final stretch and barely hung on, with Jeptoo making one final push and raising her arms at the finish line.

Baysa broke the tape, though, finishing in 2:22:03, a second ahead of Jeptoo. That ended the three-year run of Russia's Liliya Shobukhova, who placed fourth at 2:22:59. Kenya's Lucy Kabuu (2:22:41) was third.

"I came to win this race," Baysa said. "When I came upon the finish line, I knew I won the race."

Jeptoo knew it, too, but was elated anyway. That's why she raised her arms at the line.

"I was happy because I finished second, and I had a lot of energy to finish," Jeptoo said.

The winners each received 100,000. Kebede earned an extra 50,000 for setting the course record and Baysa got another 10,000 for running a sub 2:24:00.

On a cool day that seemed made for a course record, Kebede delivered.

He and Lilesa started to break away over the final three miles, and with about a mile to go, it was clear that this was Kebede's race.

The runner-up to the late Sammy Wanjiru in 2010 in a stirring finish, he ended a nine-year run by Kenyan men and, maybe, sent a message that he should have made the Ethiopian Olympic team.

He got passed over after taking third in Beijing in 2008 but came through Sunday with the first win by an Ethiopian man in Chicago. It was also the second major marathon victory for Kebede to go with the top prize at London in 2010.

With 42-degree temperatures at the start, the conditions were good for a race marked by tragedy and mishap in recent years.

There was also a mishap in 2006, when champion Robert Cheruiyot of Kenya slipped on a wet decal and banged his head as he crossed the finish line. In 2007, Chad Schieber, a 35-year-old Michigan police officer and father of three, died in near-90 degree heat.

Race organizers improved communication among various agencies and the runners. They also added more water distribution points and medical aid stations, but tragedy struck again in 2011 when William Caviness, a 35-year-old North Carolina firefighter, collapsed about 500 yards from the finish line and died on a day when temperatures reached the high 70s.

On Sunday, a 47-year-old man suffered a cardiac arrest around the 21st mile and was taken to Chicago's Mercy Hospital and Medical Center. Race medical director Dr. George Chiampas told reporters the man was alert and talking after being shocked twice, and he said through a race spokeswoman late Sunday afternoon that the runner was in stable condition.

"We obviously are always concerned, and we're still waiting for more information from the hospital and we're obviously getting updated," said Chiampas, who would not say where the runner was from "out of respect for the family."

He wasn't sure if the runner had a previous heart condition.

Nine other runners had also been taken by ambulance as of Sunday afternoon with injuries or ailments, although none were life-threatening, Chiampas said.

As for the race itself, Mosop did not enter after missing the Olympics because of an injury. He is scheduled to run the New York City Marathon next month.

That left Wesley Korir as the favorite in his fifth Chicago appearance after winning in Boston this year, but he dropped off the lead pack around the 20th mile and took fifth.

Is Kebede the best marathon runner in the world at the moment? Korir said he'd let the fans decide that.

"But I think the marathon world is getting very competitive," he added. "There are a lot of other people that are coming up. But I think at the moment, definitely, he's a very good competitor. And I think I'll be honored if he's the best marathoner in the world right now."

He was certainly the best on this day, and the same goes for Baysa barely. She managed to come out on top and end an impressive run by a three-time defending champion.

Shobukhova was looking to put aside a disappointing Olympics and become just the second four-time winner male or female in Chicago. The only other runner to do that was Khalid Khannouchi (1997, 1999, 2000, 2002).

She had been dealing with a hamstring problem before this race, although she said it was not an issue Sunday, after she was unable to finish at the London Games because of stomach cramps.

"It just gives me some perspective, just take one step back and go for it again," Shobukhova said.

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Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks host Lightning tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks host Lightning tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

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Five Things to Watch:

1. Grab the first goal.

The Blackhawks have scored the game's first goal in seven of the last eight games, and of those seven, they've won six of them. Meanwhile, the Lightning have scored the first goal only 17 times in 48 games this season, and are 12-5-1 in those games. They're 9-17-4 when they allow the first goal, so getting out to a lead first will be important against a struggling Lightning team looking for signs of life.

2. Will the floodgates open for Jonathan Toews?

After a four-point game in a 4-2 win over Vancouver, the Blackhawks captain matched his point total over his previous nine games. He's up to 26 points on the season, which is now fifth among Chicago forwards. When Toews has offensive droughts, they usually last longer than they should. But when he gets hot, he gets extremely hot. Perhaps we'll see the floodgates open offensively.

3. A chance for the team lead in scoring.

With an empty-net goal on Sunday, Marian Hossa tied Artem Anisimov for the team-lead with 18 goals. Artemi Panarin is right behind with 17, and Patrick Kane isn't far either at 15. The Blackhawks had four 20-goal scorers last season, and haven't had more than that since the 2013-14 season. They're definitely on pace to hit four, but could they surprass that? Richard Panik, who scored another goal Sunday as well, is fifth with 11 goals while Ryan Hartman has 10. Toews is at eight, but a flurry after a drought could make things interesting.

4. The triplets reunited?

In an effort to jumpstart a struggling offense, Lightning coach Jon Cooper reunited the triplets line of Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat that was so successful during their 2015 playoff run in their latest game, a 5-3 loss to Arizona. It's unclear whether they will begin tonight's game on the same line, but if not, it's worth watching throughout the game whether they do. The Blackhawks have been coming at opponents in waves lately, so Cooper could look to separate the three to distribute the scoring.

5. Take advantage on special teams.

The Lightning have racked up the fifth-most penalty minutes in the league, and own a bottom-10 penalty kill unit at 80.1 percent. The Blackhawks are the second-least penalized team, and have converted on 17.9 percent of their power plays, which sits at 16th. But they haven't scored one on the man advantage in five straight games, going 0-for-9 during that span. Here's a chance to change that.

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