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Ethiopia's Kebede sets course record in Chicago Marathon

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Ethiopia's Kebede sets course record in Chicago Marathon

CHICAGO (AP) Tsegaye Kebede saw a few Ethiopian flags as he approached the finish line and figured he'd say hello.

So he started waving.

Kebede had plenty to celebrate in his course-record win Sunday in the Chicago Marathon.

He pulled away late and was all alone, smiling to fans as he neared the finish at Grant Park and crossing the line in 2 hours, 4 minutes, 38 seconds. That easily eclipsed the previous mark of 2:05:37 set by Kenya's Moses Mosop last year and was more than enough to beat countrymen Feyisa Lilesa (2:04:52) and Tilahun Regassa (2:05:28).

"This is a great day for us, for Ethiopia, especially," Kebede said.

Atsede Baysa made it a sweep for the country with a thrilling win in the women's race, edging Kenya's Rita Jeptoo by about a step. The two traded leads down the stretch, with Jeptoo briefly grabbing it as they turned into Grant Park and Baysa quickly regaining it.

She kept looking over her shoulder during the final stretch and barely hung on, with Jeptoo making one final push and raising her arms at the finish line.

Baysa broke the tape, though, finishing in 2:22:03, a second ahead of Jeptoo. That ended the three-year run of Russia's Liliya Shobukhova, who placed fourth at 2:22:59. Kenya's Lucy Kabuu (2:22:41) was third.

"I came to win this race," Baysa said. "When I came upon the finish line, I knew I won the race."

Jeptoo knew it, too, but was elated anyway. That's why she raised her arms at the line.

"I was happy because I finished second, and I had a lot of energy to finish," Jeptoo said.

The winners each received 100,000. Kebede earned an extra 50,000 for setting the course record and Baysa got another 10,000 for running a sub 2:24:00.

On a cool day that seemed made for a course record, Kebede delivered.

He and Lilesa started to break away over the final three miles, and with about a mile to go, it was clear that this was Kebede's race.

The runner-up to the late Sammy Wanjiru in 2010 in a stirring finish, he ended a nine-year run by Kenyan men and, maybe, sent a message that he should have made the Ethiopian Olympic team.

He got passed over after taking third in Beijing in 2008 but came through Sunday with the first win by an Ethiopian man in Chicago. It was also the second major marathon victory for Kebede to go with the top prize at London in 2010.

With 42-degree temperatures at the start, the conditions were good for a race marked by tragedy and mishap in recent years.

There was also a mishap in 2006, when champion Robert Cheruiyot of Kenya slipped on a wet decal and banged his head as he crossed the finish line. In 2007, Chad Schieber, a 35-year-old Michigan police officer and father of three, died in near-90 degree heat.

Race organizers improved communication among various agencies and the runners. They also added more water distribution points and medical aid stations, but tragedy struck again in 2011 when William Caviness, a 35-year-old North Carolina firefighter, collapsed about 500 yards from the finish line and died on a day when temperatures reached the high 70s.

On Sunday, a 47-year-old man suffered a cardiac arrest around the 21st mile and was taken to Chicago's Mercy Hospital and Medical Center. Race medical director Dr. George Chiampas told reporters the man was alert and talking after being shocked twice, and he said through a race spokeswoman late Sunday afternoon that the runner was in stable condition.

"We obviously are always concerned, and we're still waiting for more information from the hospital and we're obviously getting updated," said Chiampas, who would not say where the runner was from "out of respect for the family."

He wasn't sure if the runner had a previous heart condition.

Nine other runners had also been taken by ambulance as of Sunday afternoon with injuries or ailments, although none were life-threatening, Chiampas said.

As for the race itself, Mosop did not enter after missing the Olympics because of an injury. He is scheduled to run the New York City Marathon next month.

That left Wesley Korir as the favorite in his fifth Chicago appearance after winning in Boston this year, but he dropped off the lead pack around the 20th mile and took fifth.

Is Kebede the best marathon runner in the world at the moment? Korir said he'd let the fans decide that.

"But I think the marathon world is getting very competitive," he added. "There are a lot of other people that are coming up. But I think at the moment, definitely, he's a very good competitor. And I think I'll be honored if he's the best marathoner in the world right now."

He was certainly the best on this day, and the same goes for Baysa barely. She managed to come out on top and end an impressive run by a three-time defending champion.

Shobukhova was looking to put aside a disappointing Olympics and become just the second four-time winner male or female in Chicago. The only other runner to do that was Khalid Khannouchi (1997, 1999, 2000, 2002).

She had been dealing with a hamstring problem before this race, although she said it was not an issue Sunday, after she was unable to finish at the London Games because of stomach cramps.

"It just gives me some perspective, just take one step back and go for it again," Shobukhova said.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks face Golden Knights for first time

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Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks face Golden Knights for first time

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Vegas Golden Knights Tuesday on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 8:45 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Corey Crawford vs. ... Oscar Dansk? 

The Golden Knights have seen both Marc-Andre Fleury and Malcolm Subban go down with injuries, so they're scraping for goaltenders at this point.

On one end of the ice, you have one of the best netminders in the league and a two-time Stanley Cup champion in Crawford. On the other, you have a 23-year-old rookie in Dansk making his first official NHL start who will be backed up by a 24-year-old rookie in Maxime Lagace, who has never appeared in an NHL game.

In his first game action, Dansk stopped 10 of 11 shots in relief during Saturday's 3-2 overtime win over St. Louis.

2. Fast start.

The Blackhawks are tied for second in both goals scored (13) and fewest goals allowed (four) in the first period, which has a large reason for their early season success.

The Golden Knights aren't the kind of team that gets out to a blazing start. They've allowed only five goals in the opening frame, but they've scored only five as well, which ranks among the bottom 10 teams in the league. 

3. Beware of James Neal.

The Golden Knights became the first team in NHL history to win six of their first seven games of their inaugural season. And they probably don't have half of those wins if it weren't for Neal, who scored the game-winning goal in each of their first three games.

He leads the club with six goals and eight points, and serves as the motor for a team that doesn't have much offensive talent. He's the go-to guy, and somebody you have to keep an eye on when he's on the ice.

 

Three Things to Watch: Bulls square off against LeBron and the Cavaliers

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Three Things to Watch: Bulls square off against LeBron and the Cavaliers

Here are Three Things to Watch in the Bulls' Tuesday night tilt against the Cavaliers on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Bulls Pregame Live.

1. LeBron James will be on your television

Love him or hate him, LeBron James is must-see TV. Now in his 15th NBA season, James has shown no signs of slowing down. Despite playing just one preseason game (against the Bulls), James has shown anything but rust in three games, averaging 25.0 points on 60 percent shooting, 8.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists in nearly 37 minutes. He's a threat every night to do something you've never seen on a basketball court, His Airness included. Justin Holiday and Paul Zipser will have their hands full against the game's best player.

2. Lauri Markkanen, Week 2

Small sample size alert! But through the season's first week Markkanen and Ben Simmons are the only rookies averaging a double-double (Dallas' Dennis Smith has played just one game, averaging 16 points and 10 assists). While the Bulls have struggled through two games, Markkanen's net rating is third best on the team and he leads the Bulls bigs in rebounds per game and rebound percentage. Markkanen has shown some versatility offensively, and his 7 free-throw attempts have been a nice surprise as well.

3. Don't forget: The Bulls swept the Cavaliers last year

OK, so expecting a victory Tuesday night in Cleveland isn't smart. The Bulls will be underdogs just like they were in each of the four games last season, all of which were Bulls winners. It was the first time in 52 division series that LeBron James had been swept, which is pretty remarkable considering the Bulls were the No. 8 seed and the Cavs coasted to a third straight NBA Finals. We're not over here predicting a win. But just remember: the Bulls have fared well against James in the regular season.