Sifan Hassan Wins Women’s Race at the 2023 Chicago Marathon

Six weeks after winning 2 medals on the track, she defeats defending champion Ruth Chepngetich by almost 2 minutes.

sifan hassan

Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands won the Chicago Marathon on Sunday in 2:13:44—the second-fastest time in history and a new course record, improving upon the 2:14:04 set by Brigid Kosgei in 2019 (a world record at the time).

Defending champion Ruth Chepngetich of Kenya, 29, placed second in 2:15:37, while Megertu Alemu of Ethiopia, 25, was third in 2:17:09.

The 30-year-old Hassan’s victory comes in only her second marathon—she won her debut in London this spring in 2:18:33—and just six weeks after she claimed a silver in the 5,000 metres and a bronze in the 1500 metres at the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest.

Even during that meet, her mind drifted from the competition at hand to the longer challenge ahead of her, Hassan told reporters at the post-Chicago press conference. “I was thinking about the marathon in my sleep,” she said. The distance both intrigued and scared her, so much so that she did a workout after her 1500-metre final to get more kilometres in.

Early on, Chepngetich and Hassan—tucked behind three male pacers, two provided by the race and one, Reid Buchanan, brought by Hassan—came through the 10K mark in 31:05. That was 46 seconds ahead of the chase pack, and 40 seconds ahead of the time Tigst Assefa ran in her jaw-dropping 2:11:53 world-record performance in Berlin two weeks ago.

At halfway, Chepngetich pulled ever-so-slightly ahead, coming through in 65:42 with Hassan 6 seconds back. But Hassan covered mile 16 in 5:00 flat, leaving Chepngetich—and Buchanan—behind.

She dominated the remainder of the race, despite missing a bottle and briefly circling back to the table around the 30K mark—and also while pushing through an ache in her hip. “I’m still in pain—my hip is very painful,” she said. “I was so suffering the last 5 kilometres.”

Her pace slowed—she covered the second half in 67:56—but held on to claim victory by almost two minutes. Given the pain, she thought, “there’s no way I’m going to win,” she said. The fact that she did so in such a swift time “is amazing. I’m grateful.”

Hassan takes home $100,000 for the victory and $50,000 for the course record; Chepngetich earns $75,000 for second place, and Alemu $50,000 for third.

American record holder Emily Sisson, 31, was the first U.S. finisher, taking seventh in 2:22:09. Two other Americans finished in the top 10—Olympic bronze medalist Molly Seidel, 29, was eighth in a personal-best 2:23:07, while Sara Vaughn, 37, also notched her best time yet, a 2:23:24 that placed her 10th.

The big question, now that Hassan has proven her talent at such a wide range of distances: Which will she target at the 2024 Olympics in Paris? Check back later, she said. Near the finish on Sunday, the agony of the marathon had her convinced she’d never want to run another, but that may not last. “Let me recover [from] this and I will decide what to do,” she said.

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