The Chicago Marathon has a reputation of being among the world's fastest marathon courses. For the second year in a row, a women's world marathon record has been set there.
Britain's Paula Radcliffe ran her first marathon last April in London, and finished with the second-fastest women's time ever. Sunday, she won the Chicago Marathon, beating the current world record holder, Catherine Ndereba of Kenya, and shattering the world record by one minute 29 seconds.
"I came in, and knew I was in good shape," she said. "I had my fingers crossed that I would feel good and that conditions would be good. The route was good, the course was fast and the crowd was brilliant the whole way."
Radcliffe finished in two hours, 17 minutes, 18 seconds, more than two minutes ahead of second-place finisher Ndereba. "She did a great job. I respect her very much. I know she has a lot of speed, and I was not surprised when I saw her a little bit ahead of me," she said.
The victory for Radcliffe is worth $100,000 in prize money. She gets an extra $150,000 dollars for breaking the world record. Radcliffe says she will probably run only one marathon next year, as she wants to concentrate more on shorter events.
On the men's side, no world records, but a familiar face crossing the line first. Khalid Khannouchi of the United States won his fourth Chicago Marathon, with a time of two hours, five minutes 56 seconds, earning himself $175,000 in prize and bonus money. He broke down and cried briefly at the finish line, and later called Chicago a magical place to run.
"Imagine how many times I heard my name. It was 42 kilometers, and I probably heard my name thousands of times out there," he said.
Khannouchi passed Japan's Toshinari Takaoka with about two kilometers to go. Takaoka had broken away from the men's leader group at about the 30-kilometer mark, but could not hold his lead. He finished third, just behind Daniel Njenga of Kenya.
In fourth place was Paul Tergat of Kenya, who finished second by four seconds in Chicago last year, and who finished second to Khannouchi in London earlier this year.
"The most important thing is not the position, but the performance. The time was exceptional. I mean, 2:06 is not 2:15," he said.
Tergat's final time was two hours, six minutes 18 seconds. It was a chilly Sunday morning in Chicago, with temperatures remaining around four degrees. Runners also faced a strong headwind for the last few kilometers. Khalid Khannouchi says the weather was a factor in his performance.
"I believe, with better weather, we would have been able to run a world record, but that is the way it is," he said.
This was the 25th running of the Chicago marathon, which began in 1977, with about 4,000 runners. More than 37,000 from 66 countries competed Sunday.