Chicago Marathon 2012: Why Tsegaye Kebede's Record Time Is Great for Sport
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Ethiopian Tsegaye Kebede shocked the Midwest by running 2:04:38 and breaking the Chicago Marathon men's record on Sunday.
After nine years that saw a Kenyan runner come out on top, Ethiopia has its moment in the sun. This victory is a great step forward for the running world, showing that everything has an ebb and flow.
On the men's side, Kenya has dominated marathon running in Chicago for a long time, leaving a natural want for an upset. Kebede, the first Ethiopian man to win the Chicago Marathon, gave the world a new target to shoot for.
Every sport needs parity, and now is a great time for the world to catch up to Kenya's runners.
Kebede's record, though not a world record, will still help to push others towards the goal of being the first man to break two hours.
As if taking first place and breaking the marathon record wasn't enough for Ethiopia, they also had runners finish in second (Feyisa Lilesa) and third place (Tilahun Regassa). Like Kebede, they too finished in record times.
Maybe it was the cool weather or maybe it was the desire to unseat the Kenyans that pushed them through the race.
Either way, it writes a great story leading into next year.
The women's race was also won by an Ethiopian, Atsede Baysa, who ran a time of 2:22:03. She edged out Kenyan Rita Jeptoo by one second, while also upsetting three-time winner Liliya Shobukhova, who finished fourth, from Russia.
This ended a run of four-consecutive victories by Russian women in Chicago.
It's great to see that competition still exists among all the countries participating in the marathon. Letting one country dominate for an extended period of time can make the sport become dull and uneventful.
Kebede has now given other runners another person and time to chase.
American Dathan Ritzenhein broke up the all-Africa Top 10, finishing ninth in a time of 2:07:47—breaking his personal best time by two minutes and eight seconds. He's just another example of a guy who will have Kebede in his sights next year.
For guys like Ritzenheim, training for next year has already begun.
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