CHICAGO • The day after Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge became the first to run a marathon in under two hours, Brigid Kosgei showed her country's dominance in distance running by setting a world record in retaining her Chicago Marathon title.
She finished with an unofficial time of 2hr 14min 4sec, shattering the 2:15:25 mark set by Britain's Paula Radcliffe in the 2003 London Marathon by more than a minute.
Sunday's display capped an unbelievable weekend for marathon running, with Kipchoge breaking the two-hour barrier in a special event in Vienna designed to show that a sub two-hour mark was possible despite the time not recognised as a world record as it was on a specially prepared course.
Former United States president Barack Obama yesterday lauded their achievements as "staggering", tweeting that "they're also remarkable examples of humanity's ability to endure - and keep raising the bar".
Kosgei also revealed that her compatriot's feat had inspired her to "be the second Kipchoge - the Kipchoge for women".
"They (spectators) were cheering, cheering and I got more energy to keep faster. I was not expecting this," she said. "I was expecting to run 2:16 or 2:17. It's amazing to run 2:14, but the world record was in my head. When I started the race, I was thinking I need 2:15 for Paula's record.
"I don't know how to explain how it feels to run a world record. I am so happy."
Radcliffe, who posed for photos with Kosgei later, admitted that she always knew the time would come when the record would be broken.
"When I saw how fast Brigid was running in the first half of the race, I knew that she had a good chance of getting the record," the four-time Olympian added. "I've always said 17 is my lucky number and it was exactly 17 years ago to the day that I set my first world record here in Chicago."
And like any true competitor, Kosgei does not plan to coast on her latest accomplishment as she believes "if a lady can prepare good and they have no injury... they can reduce to reduce to 2:12 or 2:13".
Making it clear that her sole goal was to get even faster, the youngest winner of the London Marathon said: "I'm still focusing to reduce my time again - if it's possible. If my body would be good, (I can) reduce little by little, slowly."
However, her year-to-year career improvement can hardly be described as "slow".
Seconds Brigid Kosgei was quicker than the previous record.
In 2017 and last year, the 25-year-old finished the Chicago Marathon in 2:20:22 and 2:18:35, respectively, after logging a year-end best time of 2:24:45 at Lisbon in 2016.
And while a 2:10 mark may be a ways off, Kosgei, who ran alone for most of the Chicago race, feels that it could be "possible" as she "runs my own pace".
Separately, Kipchoge's coach, Patrick Sang, told reporters that after recharging his batteries, the 34-year-old would likely run one more marathon before attempting to defend his Olympic crown at next year's Tokyo Games.
The 1992 Games 3,000m steeplechase silver medallist said: "He has inspired all of us to stretch our limits and do more than we think we can do. I said to him, 'Congratulations, you have done it, you have made history'."
Kipchoge had earlier said on his Facebook page that "it's too early to tell (of his Games plans)", adding: "I'll take three weeks of active rest. I'm taking normal meals with a lot of carbohydrates. I'm concentrating purely on recovery... and then (I will) decide which race to run."
REUTERS, WASHINGTON POST