© Copyright – 2023 – Athletics Illustrated

The Chicago Marathon claimed the men’s world record after losing the women’s during the Berlin Marathon in September. However, the second-fastest women’s time was run as a consolation prize. Kelvin Kiptum and Sifan Hassan emerged victorious on Sunday.

Kelvin Kiptum is the new messiah

Twenty-three-year-old Kenyan wunderkind Kelvin Kiptum bettered the greatest marathon runner of all time, Eliud Kipchoge, by half a minute. The king is dethroned mightily. Kipchoge held the previous two world records at 2:01:39 and 2:01:09, both run in Berlin. Kiptum did one better going 2:00:35 in Chicago on Sunday. The previous course record was held by Kenyan Dennis Kimetto at 2:03:45.

Kiptum passed halfway in the time of 1:00:48. Meaning he negative-split the course, after destroying his pacers after 5K.

“I wasn’t necessarily ready for that, but a world record, I’m so happy. I knew I would break this record one day,” said Kiptum.

“When I saw the time in front of me I felt so good, with a rush of adrenaline.” 

Kiptum wore the Nike Dev 163 prototype shoes.

In baseball terms, Kiptum has hit three grand slams out of the stadium in three at-bats; he’s batting a .1000. Ten months ago, he debuted in the marathon clocking a stunning 2:01:53 for the win in Valencia. Four months later, Kiptum dropped a bomb at London with a 2:01:25 winning performance. Two hours and one minute is otherwordly, to do it in a debut is outrageous, and to do it three times in 10 months is akin to the Beatles taking the stage on the Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964 with George Harrison shredding Van Halen’s Eruption. It’s more than Wayne Gretzky scoring 200-plus points in a season five times with Dave Semenko’s Sher-Wood PMP 5030 stick. The 2:01s, by Kenenisa Bekele (2:01:41) and Kipchoge, are amazing, Kiptum’s runs, for one final superlative, are better than Pee Wee Herman knocking out Mike Tyson during his prime.

What is going on here?

Kiptum is young and is or was self-coached. With this new level of racing, he has re-calibrated modern thinking of what is humanly possible. It is as though Kipchoge’s performances were written in invisible ink. The Buddha, as Kipchoge was often referred to, has been demoted in the dharma ranks to dai-Oshō — take a seat.

Kipchoge’s mantra, “Anything is possible,” is now a prophecy that created a monster wearing Frankensteinian shoes.

Kipruto Benson finished second in a comparatively slow 2:04:02. Bashir Abdi representing Belgium took third in 2:04:32.

The Americans did well within themselves as Connor Mantz took sixth in the time of 2:07:47, followed by Clayton Young in 2:08:00, Galen Rupp at 2:08:48 in ninth position and Sam Chelanga in 2:08:50 thenth. It was a minor comeback for American marathon running. And it was a bigger comeback for Rupp, who since being separated from his banned coach Alberto Salazar and the now defunct Nike Oregon Project simply hasn’t raced well. His best performance was five years ago when he ran 2:06:07 in Prague.

The run for Mantz was a new personal best and through the distances from 1500m to the marathon, it is his best performance. The 26-year-old has clocked three bests in 2023. In the 1500m, he ran 3:37.97, in the 10,000m 27:25:23 and now the marathon.

Photo credit: Michael Reaves

The shoes? Nike has now usurped Adidas which had temporarily stolen the spotlight from Nike with Tigst Assefa’s cyclonic 2:11:53 in Berlin. The two companies will continue to battle for the fastest clown shoe, while thousands of East Africans couldn’t afford the shoelaces to tie them. The one-wear shoes, good for a whopping 30 miles (50K) are irresponsibly bad for the environment and an embarrassment to sportsmanship. Caught without them, you will lose — it is time to join the circus. World Athletics needs to settle on rules for the shoes to keep the circus animals from leaving the big top and rampaging through the town.

Sifan Hassan continues unabated

Aside from falling down once in a while, Sifan Hassan just can’t lose. The former Ethiopian athlete would be considered one of the greatest outliers in any sport during any other era. But, alas, the shoes have allowed a number of athletes to destroy nearly every record on the books by very large margins.

Hassan will chase down three medals in a World Championships or Olympic Games, emerge victorious, and then smash a marathon fresh-like. In London, during her debut at the distance, she stopped thrice to stretch. She even walked a bit. No problem, the now Dutch athlete went on to win, well composed clocking a 2:18:33 for a national record. Hassan won two medals at the Budapest World Athletics Championships in August. She would have won gold in the 10,000m, but she fell down near the finish line — ouch. The 30-year-old took 1500m and 5000m medals running 3:56.00 and 14:54.11, respectively. Did the super shoes cause her to catch a toe?

In Chicago, she won handily in 2:13:44. Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich took second in 2:15:37 while the Ethiopian Megertu Alemu troddled in at a pedestrian 2:17:09. Perhaps she stopped at a garage sale along the way. Chepngetich was denied her third consecutive Chicago win.

Again, Americans had a minor comeback with Emily Sisson taking seventh in 2:22:09 and Molly Seidel finishing eighth in 2:23:07. It was a new personal best for Seidel, who had earned a bronze medal during the Tokyo Olympic Games marathon. Thirty-seven-year-old Sara Vaughn clocked a new best of 2:23:24 in finishing 10th. Nine of the top-20 finishers were Americans all under 2:30:00 including Des Linden age 40, perhaps best known for her 2011 Boston Marathon win.

The battle of the shoes will continue, which will wreak havoc on competition, as World Championship and Olympic qualifying standards are based on other recent performances. Standards will be artificially difficult. Qualification is also weighted on global rankings and other factors. To be in the mix on the start line, an athlete who has not yet run at an international level will be wearing what shoes they can afford. Meanwhile, the fast gets faster, killing the sport in the process. Prototypes should be banned. Super shoes should be limited in a major way. This has got to stop.

It is incumbent upon World Athletics — the worldwide governing body of the sport — and the World Athletics Council to schedule a special meeting to table limits on super shoes. The shoes need to be widely available, limited on heel-to-toe drop and built for longevity. Shoes need to have a limit on overall stack height. Throwing away a one-time shoe at the cost of $500 USD or $650 CAD or £ 400 UK is irresponsible. For a century, distance running was approachable and affordable for all. The nature of the activity was the great equalizer. The rich run with the poor, the professionals with the tradespeople, and the peasants with the politicians.

Not anymore.



1 Kiptum, Kelvin (KEN) – 2:00:35 (World Record)
2 Kipruto, Benson (KEN) – 2:04:02
3 Abdi, Bashir (BEL) – 2:04:32
4 Korir, John (KEN) – 2:05:09
5 Tura Abdiwak, Seifu (ETH) – 2:05:29
6 Mantz, Conner (USA) – 2:07:47
7 Young, Clayton (USA) – 2:08:00
8 Rupp, Galen (USA) – 2:08:48
9 Chelanga, Sam (USA) – 2:08:50
10 Ichida, Takashi (JPN) – 2:08:57
11 Shrader, Brian (USA) – 2:09:46
12 Kiptoo, Wesley (KEN) – 2:10:28
13 McDonald, Matt (USA – )2:10:34
14 Reichow, Joel (USA) – 2:10:37
15 Colley, Andrew (USA) – 2:11:22
16 Salvano, Kevin (USA) – 2:11:26
17 Wolde, Dawit (ETH) – 2:11:33


1. Hassan, Sifan (NED) – 2:13:44
2. Chepngetich, Ruth (KEN) – 2:15:37
3. Alemu, Megertu (ETH) – 2:17:09
4. Jepkosgei, Joyciline (KEN) – 2:17:23
5. Teshome Nare, Tadu (ETH) – 2:20:04
6. Dibaba Keneni, Genzebe (ETH) – 2:21:47
7. Sisson, Emily (USA) – 2:22:09
8. Seidel, Molly (USA) – 2:23:07
9. Harvey, Rose (GBR) – 2:23:21
10. Vaughn, Sara (USA) – 2:23:24
11. Rooker, Gabriella (USA) – 2:24:35
12. Lindwurm, Dakotah (USA) – 2:24:40
13. Bates, Emma (USA) – 2:25:04
14. Van Ord, Tristin (USA) – 2:25:58
15. Kebede, Sutume Asefa (ETH) – 2:26:49
16. Scott, Dominique (RSA) – 2:27:31
17. Linden, Desiree (USA) – 2:27:35
18. Montoya, Maggie (USA) – 2:28:22
19. Delanis, Emeline (FRA) – 2:31:29
20. Ndiwa, Stacy (KEN) – 2:31:34