Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei smashes women’s marathon record

Ireland’s Fionnuala McCormack finished in fifth place to qualify for the Olympics

Brigid Kosgei of Kenya broke the record for the women’s marathon in Chicago on Sunday. Photo: Getty Images

Brigid Kosgei of Kenya broke the record for the women’s marathon in Chicago on Sunday. Photo: Getty Images

 

Paula Radcliffe’s world marathon record, which has stood imperiously for over 16 years, has been obliterated by Brigid Kosgei at the Chicago Marathon. The 25-year-old Kenyan ran 2:14:04 to beat Radcliffe’s best of 2:15:25 by an astonishing 81 seconds.

In fifth place was Ireland’s Fionnuala McCormack who secured a place at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics with a time of 2:26:47. McCormack’s time was the second fastest ever by any Irish woman, only behind Catherina McKiernan.

The whispers all week in Chicago had been that Kosgei was intending to make a serious assault on Radcliffe’s time. In cold and sunny conditions – perfect for the marathon – she knew the attempt was on, especially when the winds died down on Sunday morning.

Kosgei immediately set out her stall by going through five miles in 25:10, way inside world record pace. Some feared that she had massively overcooked her pace and would eventually boil over. But even though Kosgei slowed her pace she still went through halfway in 66.59, over a minute faster than Radcliffe’s time in setting her world record in 2003.

There appeared to be a moment where Kosgei appeared to not quite as comfortable, but when she ran the five kilometers between 25 and 30 km in 15:45 pace it was clear that she the record was in her grasp. And so it proved.

Afterwards an elated Kosgei admitted she was surprised to run so fast. “I am feeling good, and 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.”

Meanwhile Radcliffe, who posed for photographs with the Kenyan afterwards, admitted it was a bittersweet moment. “If you had told me when I set it in 2003, that it would last that long I wouldn’t have believed it,” she said. “But I always knew this time would come - and when I saw how fast Brigid was running today I knew the record would go if she could maintain her pace.”

If there is one question mark over Kosgei’s thundering achievement it is that her agent, Federico Rosa, has had a high number of athletes who have been banned. They include Asbel Kiprop, the former world 1500m champion, Jemima Sumgong, the 2016 London marathon and Olympic champion, and Rita Jeptoo, who won this race in 2013. However there is no suggestion of wrongoing by Kosgei or Rosa.

Some will also point out that Kosgei was wearing the Nike Next% training shoes, which have been estimated to give between 60-90 seconds of performance benefit over other shoes. But on a stunning day in Chicago few appeared to care about that as she blasted into history. – Guardian

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