Swiss star Marcel Hug all but clinched the first ever Abbott World Marathon Majors wheelchair series at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon Oct. 9 as Tatyana McFadden re-asserted her dominance of the women's leaderboard and Kenyans swept the field in the elite races.
Former double world champion Abel Kirui returned to winning ways in a tactical race as he outkicked defending champion Dickson Chumba to claim the men's title by three seconds while Florence Kiplagat became the first woman to retain the Chicago crown for nine years as she beat her namesake Edna by almost two minutes in 2:21:32. Florence Kiplagat now has the record for the most Majors wins since the series begin in 2006.
Kenyans filled both podiums, taking the first five places in the men's race and the first four in the women's.
Kirui, whose last major marathon victory was at the 2011 World Championships, ended a five-year wait by breaking the tape on Columbus Drive in 2:11:23.
Chumba, who came within a mile of winning Series IX in Tokyo last February, picked up his first points of the current circuit, while Gideon Kipketer was third in 2:12:20 ahead of compatriots Paul Lonyangata and Stephen Sambu.
Kiplagat's victory moves her into second place on the women's leaderboard above Boston Marathon champion Atsede Baysa who finished out of the points in sixth more than seven minutes back. Kiplagat, who placed third at the Virgin Money London Marathon, now has 34 points, just 16 short of women's leader Jemima Sumgong.
She made her move between 30 and 35k and opened a gap on Edna Kiplagat and Valentine Kipketer which grew to well over two minutes by 40k. Edna edged ahead of Kipketer in the final few kilometers to take second in 2:23:28 with Purity Rionoripo fourth and Yebrguai Melese of Ethiopia fifth.
Hug cemented his utter dominance of the men's wheelchair series when he held off arch rival and defending Chicago champion Kurt Fearnley to claim his fifth victory from the first five races and establish an unassailable total at the top of the standings.
His one-second win over the Australian in 1:32:57 added another 25 points to his huge tally to give him a maximum 125 from the five events so far. With just three to go in the 12-month contest Hug is already assured of an AbbottWMM championship, although the man nicknamed the Silver Bullet will surely now set his sights on a clean sweep of all eight races.
Fearnley, who was second to Hug in London and at the Rio Paralympic Games, picked up another 16 points.
After a tussle involving 10 athletes until the closing stages, just three seconds separated the top five on the line. Four-time Chicago winner Josh George was third in his home town race while Paralympic bronze medallist Gyu Dae Kim of South Korea took fourth and Aaron Pike of USA fifth.
By contrast the women's race became a two-way battle from early on when McFadden broke clear of the rest with Manuel Sch�r leaving Amanda McGrory isolated in third.
Sch�r had cut McFadden's lead to just nine points with victory in Berlin two weeks ago, but the American was in no mood to relinquish her grip on the series and unleashed her renowned sprint finish to take the winner's plaudits in 1:42:28.
Sch�r was just one second behind, while McGrory was third more than five minutes later. Sandra Graf and Susannah Scaroni claimed the minor points in fourth and fifth.
McFadden now has 91 points and holds an 18-point lead on Sch�r with another showdown at the TCS New York City Marathon due in a month's time. McGrory moves into fourth on 23 points, just three behind China's Zou Lihong.