All hail King Samuel Wanjiru

Sammy Wanjiru of Kenya reacts as he crosses the finish line to win the Chicago Marathon October 11, 2009. REUTERS/

What you need to know:

  • Olympic champ adds Chicago to his growing collection of marathon titles and records

Like at the Beijing Olympics, Samuel Wanjiru was waving to the fans in celebration as he approached the finish line at the the Chicago City Marathon.

At that point Wanjiru, also the London Marathon champion had no idea that Sh7.5 million ($100,000) was at stake if he broke the course record. All he wanted was win the race.

One second slower and Wanjiru would have missed course record and the money. But he certainly would not have gone home empty handed as he got himself some Sh5.6m ($75,000) for winning the race one second faster than Moroccan Khalid Khannouchi who ran 2:05:42. in 1999.

Besides the appearance fee and winners cash prize, Wanjiru, still only 22, is also due an estimated Sh19 million ($250,000) in appearance fee at Chicago and a jackpot prize of Sh38 million ($500,000) for winning this year’s World Marathon Majors title. He will receive the award on November 2 in New York.

Late push

Abderrahim Goumri of Morocco made a late push to finish second in 2:06:04 edging out Kenya Vincent Kipruto to third in 2:06:08.

It was Wanjiru’s fourth win in five career marathons following his debut win at Fukuoka in December 2007 (2:06:39) and victory in London (2:05:10) early this year. The Olympic crown was next in Wanjiru’s collection, taken in a new Games of record time of 2:06:32.

Led by three white singleted pacesetters, five Kenyans made up the early lead pack that tore through the early miles at 4:40 pace and hit the half marathon mark at the pre-race set 1:02:00 target.

At that point one of the pacesetters had been dropped and another was in trouble. By 25km, however, the last remaining pacer, 2007 Chicago marathon champion Patrick Ivuti, could no longer maintain world record pace.

That was Wanjiru’s goal, which if attained would have fetched him an additional Sh7.5 million for breaking Haile Gebrselassie’s 2:03.59 world record, but at that point the dream was dead.

“I knew the world record was not possible now. I was just running for the win,” Wanjiru said.

The London marathon champion then opted to reverted to his ‘Beijing strategy,’ looking over at whoever was still with him or dropping back to take a look at who was behind, throwing in an occasional surge, all designed to gauge the strength of his opponents.

By the 35km mark it was time to go! He shifted a gear up and opened up a small gap on Kenya’s two other marathoning prodigies, Vincent Kipruto, 22, and Charles Munyeki, 23. He then surged again two minutes later to open an even wider gap. The race was over.


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