By Karin Matz
CHICAGO (Reuters) - Moses Mosop of Kenya set a course record in cruising to victory in the Chicago Marathon on Sunday in a race tempered by the first death in the event in four years after a runner collapsed near the finish line.
The runner, identified as William Caviness, 35, by the Cook County Medical Examiner's office, collapsed about 500 yards from completing the 26.2 mile course.
He collapsed within 50 yards of doctors monitoring the race, who responded immediately but could not revive him and he was pronounced dead 1 hour and 45 minutes later at a local hospital, marathon spokeswoman Robin Monsky said.
An autopsy has been scheduled for Monday.
The last death in the Chicago Marathon occurred in 2007, when temperatures climbed to 90 degrees F (32 C) with high humidity. Some 300 runners were taken to hospital suffering from heat-related illness and the race was halted early.
Conditions were milder this year with Sunday afternoon highs reaching only 73 degrees at a lake front gauge near Grant Park where the race started and finished, according to the National Weather Service.
Marathon organizers reported transporting 54 individuals to area hospitals, down from 100 last year.
Temperatures on the Chicago lakefront were in the mid-60s for the first two hours of the race and did not reach as high as expected through midday when the bulk of the runners were working their way through the city's neighborhoods.
Earlier in the day, Mosop surged away from an elite field of runners with seven miles to go, setting a course record of two hours five minutes and 37 seconds and waving to the crowd as he trotted toward the finish line.
Liliya Shobukhova of Russia won the women's competition for the third straight year in two hours eighteen minutes and 20 seconds, beating the second place women's finisher by nearly four minutes. Both winners' times were unofficial.
Mosop, who had the second fastest marathon time on record in losing the Boston Marathon by 4 seconds earlier this year, quickly countered a breakaway by countryman Wesley Korir after the 19 mile mark and never looked back in breaking the course record set two years ago.
Korir finished 38 seconds behind Mosop in second place. Bernard Kipyego of Kenya was third.
In a post-race interview, Mosop said he had been prepared to challenge for a course record, but not the world record because a leg injury had limited his training.
"I'm very happy about my job today," Mosop said in the interview on NBC television, which carried the race.
Ryan Hall, a pre-race favorite, finished fifth overall in 2:08:04 and was the top American. Hall's was the third fastest American performance on record for the Chicago Marathon trailing only Khalid Khannouchi's two wins in 2002 and 2000.
The Chicago marathon course is considered ideal for record-setting performances when conditions are right. The route cuts through two dozen ethnic neighborhoods between its start and finish in Grant Park adjacent to downtown.
Mosop had the second fastest marathon in history in Boston at 2:03:06, just behind Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya who set the marathon record at 2:03:02.
Partly because Boston is a point-to-point course and there was a strong tailwind, those times were not recognized as world records.
The current world record in the marathon is 2:03:38, set September 25 in Berlin by Kenya's Patrick Makau.
Shobukhova had the second fastest time ever for a woman in the Chicago Marathon behind Paula Radcliffe of Great Britain who set a then-world record of 2:17:18 in 2002.
Ethiopian track star Ejegayehu Dibaba, who was making her marathon debut, ran alongside Shobukhova until about the 15 mile mark before slipping off the pace. Dibaba finished second in 2:22:09. Kayoko Fukishi of Japan was third.
Some 45,000 runners were registered for the race with more than 100 countries represented. Race organizers expected some 1.7 million spectators to watch along the route. About 35,600 runners finished the race.
(Reporting by Karin Matz; Writing by David Bailey. Editing by Peter Bohan)