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General News Another best for Khalid Khannouchi

Khannouchi wins Chicago again, sets American record

Khannouchi wins Chicago again, sets American record
Nancy Armour (AP)

22 October 2000 – Chicago - Another best for Khalid Khannouchi – an American best this time.

Six months after becoming an American citizen, the Moroccan-born Khannouchi set the U.S. marathon mark Sunday, winning the Chicago Marathon in 2 hours, 7 minutes, 1 second. His wife, Sandra, gave him a U.S. flag after he crossed the finish line, and he bent down and kissed the ground before wrapping the flag around his shoulders.

Khannouchi's record smashed both the official and unofficial U.S. marks. Bob Kempainen ran a 2:08:47 at Boston in 1994, but it was on a point-to-point course. David Morris ran a 2:09:32 at Chicago last year.

It was the third victory in Chicago for Khannouchi, who set the world best performance of 2:05:42 here last year, when he still ran as a Moroccan citizen. He's the first American to win since Greg Meyer did it in 1982.

Khannouchi gets dlrs 180,000 for his victory. The winner's prize of dlrs 75,000 is doubled for U.S. citizens, and he gets another dlrs 30,000 for finishing under 2:08.

Catherine Ndereba of Kenya, the Boston Marathon champion, won the women's race in 2:21:33, bettering her personal best by almost five minutes. Fellow Kenyan Lornah Kiplagat, who'd won her last eight races, was second in 2:22:36.

Josephat Kiprono of Kenya was second in the men's race in 2:07:29, and Moses Tanui was third in the first race to feature seven sub-2:07 runners.

No other American man was close to Khannouchi. Morris finished seventh in 2:12:00.

Kiplagat actually led the women's field for most of the race, with Ndereba trailing just behind. Ndereba moved ahead between the 24th and 25th miles, then cruised to the finish.

Libbie Hickman was the top American woman, finishing in sixth place in 2:32:09.

Khannouchi moved to the United States in 1993 and married Sandra Inoa, a naturalised U.S. citizen, three years later. Feeling embraced by Americans, he applied for citizenship in the hope he could run for the United States in the Sydney Olympics.

But his case was delayed, and he didn't receive his citizenship until May. Though that was in time for the U.S. marathon trials, Khannouchi pulled out because of injuries and a fear the Moroccan track federation would block him from running in Sydney.

Missing the Olympics was so painful that Khannouchi couldn't even watch the marathon. Instead, he focused on Chicago, where he's won three out of the last four years and finished second in 1998.

Khannouchi and the rest of the top runners hung behind the pacers until the 16th mile, when Kiprono made a small surge. Still trailing the pacers, Kiprono moved about 20 metres in front of the rest of the leaders.

It stayed that way until the 19th mile, when the last pacer dropped off and the rest of the leaders started catching Kiprono.

Khannouchi briefly moved to the front between the 20th and 21st miles, but dropped back with Fred Kiprop, Moses Tanui and Peter Githuka.

After passing the 23-mile marker, Khannouchi made his move. He slowly pulled ahead of Kiprono as Tanui fell back. Kiprono tried to stay with him, but Khannouchi kept moving ahead, opening a lead of about four seconds after about 24 1/2 miles.

As he ran through a tunnel under McCormick Place on Chicago's lakefront, about 1 1/2 miles before the finish, Khannouchi put on a huge burst of speed. By the time he came out of the tunnel, Kiprono was a good 50 metres behind, and Khannouchi's victory was secure.

Selected results:

1. Khalid Khannouchi (USA) 2hr 07min 01sec, 2. Josephat Kiprono
(Ken) 2:07.29, 3. Moses Tanui (Ken) 2:07.47, 4. Peter Githuka (Ken)
2:08.02, 5. Fred Kiprop (Ken) 2:08.23, 6. William Kiplagat (Ken)
2:11.57, 7. David Morris (USA) 2:12.00, 8. Eric Mack (USA) 2:12.42,
9. Josh Cox (USA) 2:13.55, 10. Laban Labannkete (USA) 2:14.50

1. Catherine Ndereba (Ken) 2:21.33, 2. Lornah Kiplagat (Ken)
2:22.36, 3. Irena Timofeyeva (Rus) 2:29.13, 4. Elena Meyer (Rsa)
2:31.59, 5. Obata Kayoko (USA) 2:31.59