35,000 runners toed the line for yesterday's Chicago Marathon in cold weather - a sharp contrast to the previous two years when conditions were uncomfortably hot. Kenya's Sammy Wanjiru thrived on what was described as a 'bone-chilling' Sunday morning to take first place, record the fastest time ever on American soil and lift a winner's check of $75,000. Wanjiru also collected a $100,000 bonus for the record time although he was unaware of the extra prize on offer as he waved to the crowds as he approached the finish line. If he had finished a second later he would not have broken Khalid Khannouchi's record set in Chicago in 1999.
Abderrahim Goumri of Morocco made a late push to finish second in 2:06:04, with Kenya's Vincent Kipruto in third (2:06:08). Russia's Liliya Shobukhova, who finished third at the London Marathon earlier this year, was a winner in her second marathon and finished all alone in 2:25:56. London winner Irina Mikitenko of Germany (2:26:31) finished second to clinch the 2008-09 World Marathon Majors championship, and defending champion Lidiya Grigoryeva of Russia was third (2:26:47). American Deena Kastor, the Chicago winner in 2005, placed sixth (2:28:50) in her first marathon since breaking her right foot in the Beijing Olympics.
However it was a relatively incident-free, if very cold, marathon for the thousands of recreational runners. Many would have remembered the drama of 2007 when the race was stopped after 4 hours with high humidity, temperatures soaring into the 80s, hundreds of runners collapsing and one fatality.