Tue, Oct 24, 2006 - Page 19 News List

Kenyan wins marathon, bangs head

AP , CHICAGO

Robert Cheruiyot of Kenya slips as he approaches the finish line of the Chicago Marathon in Chicago, Illinois, on Sunday. Cheruiyot held off fellow Kenyan Daniel Njenga to win the marathon and was taken from the course in a wheelchair after slipping and banging his head near the finish line.

PHOTO: AP

Robert Cheruiyot held off fellow Kenyan Daniel Njenga to win the Chicago Marathon on Sunday, but was taken from the course in a wheelchair after slipping and banging his head near the finish line.

Cheruiyot, winner of this year's Boston Marathon, stayed down for several minutes after hitting his head. He was placed in a wheelchair and then the cart.

He was treated for internal and external bleeding and was expected to spend the night at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Agent Federico Rosa said he was not sure if his client had lost consciousness.

"They don't talk of any severe complications," Rosa said. "They just say he's stable. ... At the moment, it is nothing serious."

Although Cheruiyot slipped before the tape, he did cross the finish line. It was a painful ending to a race in which he sprinted away from Njenga in the final stretch and finished in 2:07: 35.

"He just slipped," race referee Pat Savage said. "Luckily for him, he slipped completely forward. The finish line is right at the beginning of the mat, and he ended up sliding right across it. ... There is no doubt about it; he's the winner."

Berhane Adere of Ethiopia won the women's race in 2:20:42 for her first marathon victory, followed by Galina Bogomolova of Russia in 2:20:47, Benita Johnson of Australia (2:22:36) and Madai Perez Carrillo of Mexico (2:22:59). Constantina Tomescu-Dita of Romania (2:24:25) dropped to fifth after leading the first 34km.

Cheruiyot made a push as the leaders turned off Michigan Avenue. Njenga (2:07:40) drew even but couldn't keep pace and finished second in this race for the third time in five years. He was runner-up in 2002 and 2004 and placed third in 2003 and last year. Jimmy Muindi of Kenya was third (2:07:51), and Abdi Abdirahman, a US citizen born in Somalia, finished fourth in 2:08:56.

Cheruiyot made a move at the 34km mark, but couldn't pull away. Njenga, the 2004 Tokyo International winner, briefly moved to the front, with Cheruiyot and Muindi right with them. The three were close as they headed up Michigan Avenue, but it became a two-man race on the way to the finish line.

For a few seconds, Njenga thought he might be declared the winner, but Savage said there were "no ifs, ands or buts about it."

Cheruiyot's torso crossed the finish line, and that made him the winner.

"I thought, maybe, I'm the one who won the race, but later, somebody told me I am No. 2," a teary Njenga said. "I'm not the luckiest man. But I'll do my best for upcoming races."

With mist, blustery winds and cool temperatures, the conditions weren't ideal. But that didn't faze Tomescu-Dita early on.

She had a good track record in Chicago and bested the world record while finishing second at the Oct. 8 IAAF World Road Running Championship 20K.

She was hoping to finish in 2:20 -- 90 seconds under her personal best -- and had promised to jump ahead early.

She did just that.

Tomescu-Dita, the winner in 2004, was at 1:08:05 halfway through the race, more than two minutes ahead of Bogomol

But Bogomolova and Adere moved ahead with about 5km to go.

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