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Record crumbles at Chicago Marathon

CHICAGO -- Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia shattered the course record in winning the Chicago Marathon on Sunday morning.

Kebede 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), who also bettered Mosop's record.

“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, one 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 US$100,000. Kebede earned an extra US$50,000 for setting the course record and Baysa got another US$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.

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Runners leave the starting line during the 2012 Chicago Marathon, Sunday, Oct. 7. (AP)



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