CHICAGO — As he finished off the fastest Chicago Marathon in history, Moses Mosop of Kenya raised his arms and pointed toward the cheering crowd.
For a guy who wasn’t in peak condition, he sure looked good.
Mosop set a course record Sunday and Russia’s Liliya Shobukhova claimed the women’s title to become the race’s first three-peat champion.
Both runners had no trouble pulling away from the pack on a warm morning to claim their $100,000 prizes. Mosop earned another $50,000 for breaking the late Sammy Wanjiru’s course record by four seconds, finishing in 2 hours, 5 minutes, 37 seconds.
But there also was another death just four years after a Michigan man with a heart condition died. Authorities say a 35-year-old North Carolina man collapsed about 500 yards from the finish line Sunday morning and was pronounced dead at Mercy Hospital.
The race-time temperature was 64 degrees and reached the high 70s during the afternoon, the fourth time in five years the weather was unusually warm.
After the 2007 marathon, organizers improved communication between various agencies and the runners. They also added more water distribution points and medical aid stations.
The man’s death was announced hours after impressive performances by Mosop and Shobukhova.
“My shape was bad. I was worried about my leg,” said Mosop, who’s been bothered by a left Achilles tendon problem.
That didn’t prevent a record performance.
He easily beat countrymen Wesley Korir (2:06:15) and Bernard Kipyego (2:06:29), with Ethiopia’s Bekana Daba (2:07:59) and American Ryan Hall (2:08:04) rounding out the top five.
Shobukhova also made it look easy in becoming the first runner — male or female — to win three straight titles in Chicago, clocking in at 2:18:20. Paula Radcliffe of England is the only woman to have run a faster marathon, holding the three fastest times, including a 2:17:18 at Chicago in 2002.
Shobukhova outclassed the field on Sunday, with Ejegayehu Dibaba of Ethiopia taking second in 2:22:09 and Japan’s Kayoko Fukushi third in 2:24:38. The Russian also probably secured an Olympic berth. Her country’s federation will select its team based on the two fastest times posted between Sept. 1 and the end of the year.
“I’m overwhelmed right now,” said Shobukhova, who earned an additional $40,000 for finishing in under 2:20. “You’re happy. You’re excited. You’re shocked.”
And she doesn’t see anyone beating her time, meaning she expects to run for Russia in London next summer.
Mosop, meanwhile, impressed again after a string of top performances, including a spectacular debut at the Boston Marathon this year.
He ran the second-fastest 26.2 miles in history that day but finished behind fellow Kenyan Geoffrey Mutai in 2:03:06 with a tailwind on a course that doesn’t meet specifications for world records. He then set the world mark in the 30,000 meters at the Prefontaine Classic in June, but his Achilles issue limited his training during the summer.
Even so, Mosop was hoping to break the course record of 2:05:41 Wanjiru set in 2009, when he won the first of two straight Chicago Marathons. Mosop did just that despite estimating that he was only about 85 percent.
If he were completely healed?
“Maybe I’d run in 2:02,” he said.
That’s something no one has done, but it’s hard to argue with Mosop the way he’s been performing.
Nicknamed “Big Engine” for his powerful technique, Mosop didn’t flinch when Korir made a move to break from a five-man pack and took the lead after 18 miles. Instead, Mosop came on like an express train and left everyone else behind.
“I knew that if I had to make a move, now was the time to make a move,” Korir said. “I saw an opportunity, and I was like, ‘You know what? I’m going to go.'”
Mosop, however, went with him, and then, in a flash, he was the one taking control.
“I knew that I was awakening the lion that was asleep,” Korir said. “I knew that, and I was ready. I wasn’t surprised when he came back. At that moment, I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try to stay behind him,’ but he kept going.”
Hall couldn’t keep pace once Korir and Mosop broke from the pack, but still managed to run the third-best time in his ninth marathon and stay on track for making the U.S. Olympic team.
“I don’t feel like I’ve ever run a bad marathon, so that’s why I’m not disappointed,” he said. “It was exactly what I hoped it would be. I knew I learned a lot in my training leading up to this. I know I learned a lot in the race, as well. There are not too many American guys out there running 2:08s so I’ll take it.”
There were 45,000 runners registered and 37,400 made the start on a day that seemed made for hanging out by the lake if not running 26.2 miles.
“The weather was absolutely gorgeous,” Shobukhova said.