CHICAGO (AP) _ As he approached the end of the race, Robert Cheruiyot was about to celebrate his victory at the Chicago Marathon.
However, he never got a chance.
Instead, he was taken to a hospital after he slipped and cut his head while crossing the finish line. Cheriot did get the victory Sunday, holding off fellow Kenyan Daniel Njenga, but he had no memory of it immediately afterward.
``Did I win the race?'' he asked his coach moments afterward. ``What happened?''
Cheruiyot, this year's Boston Marathon winner, was treated for internal and external bleeding in his head and was expected to spend the night at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. His agent, Federico Rosa, said the runner did not need stitches or surgery, but he was not sure if Cheruiyot had lost consciousness. He also said Cheruiyot's memory returned quickly and doctors did not think his injuries were serious.
Although Cheruiyot slipped under the tape, he crossed the finish line in 2 hours, 7 minutes, 35 seconds after sprinting away from Njenga in the final stretch.
``He has a lot of pain in the head,'' Rosa said. ``He is, of course, happy. But he's very tired.''
Ethiopia's Berhane Adere finished the women's race in 2:20:42 for her first marathon victory, followed by Russia's Galina Bogomolova (2:20:47), Australia's Benita Johnson (2:22:36) and Mexico's Madai Perez Carrillo (2:22:59).
Romania's Constantina Tomescu-Dita (2:24:25) dropped to fifth after leading the first 21 miles. The top American woman was two-time Olympian Elva Dryer of Albuquerque, N.M.
Rosa said he wasn't sure what caused Cheruiyot to slip. There was a decal at the finish line, but Rosa wasn't pointing his finger at anyone.
``There was nobody to blame at all,'' he said, suggesting the surface was slick from rain.
Cheruiyot made a push as the leaders turned off Michigan Avenue near the end of the race. 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 2005. Jimmy Muindi of Kenya was third (2:07:51), and Abdi Abdirahman, a U.S. citizen born in Somalia, finished fourth in 2:08:56.
For a few seconds, Njenga thought he might be declared the winner, but race referee Pat Savage said there were ``no ifs, ands or buts about it.'' Cheruiyot's torso crossed the finish line, making him the winner.
It was a bittersweet finish for Njenga, who called Chicago his ``favorite marathon.''
``I thought, maybe, I'm the one who won the race, but later, somebody told me I am No. 2,'' he said as tears welled. ``I'm not the luckiest man. But I'll do my best for upcoming races.''
The field featured 34,698 runners on a misty, blustery day with temperatures of about 40 degrees.
``It was a little wet out there on the course, and you just had to take the sharper turns a little easier than you would have if it was dry,'' said American Brian Sell, who finished sixth. ``The wind was a factor, definitely.''
The weather did not seem to bother Tomescu-Dita.
Last year's runner-up and the winner in 2004, she spent the first half of the race running with a pack of men. Fatigue set in at about 21 miles, and she said she ``died.''
Bogomolova and Adere went ahead just past the 23-mile mark, and Adere made a move along Michigan Avenue.
``I wanted to push myself,'' Adere said.
Cheruiyot and Adere each earned $125,000 for their victories, and both took the lead in the World Marathon standings with 50 and 30 points, respectively. The two-year series, which runs through 2007, rewards the top male and female runner $500,000 based on performances at the Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York City marathons.