Moses Mosop crosses the finish line in Chicago. Photo Credit: Nam Y. Huh, AP

Moses Mosop is nicknamed The Big Engine for his powerful endurance and running technique, and on Sunday, with his motor apparently not even at full throttle, the 26-year-old Kenyan cruised to a course record at the Chicago Marathon, clocking two hours, five minutes and 37 seconds.

Mosop said he wasn’t even at full strength in the race, running at about 85% of optimal because of an Achilles tendon injury.  What could The Big Engine do at 100%?  “Maybe I would run 2:02,” said Mosop, who ran a spectacular 2:03:06 in his marathon debut in Boston in April. Mosop finished four seconds behind fellow-Kenyan Geoffrey Mutai in Boston. Their times were the fastest ever recorded for the marathon, but because of Boston’s point-to-point course and overall downhill slope, they were not officially recognized.

Another Kenyan, Patrick Makau, set the current world record of 2:03:38 at last month’s Berlin Marathon. If Mosop’s comments about his conditioning are true, Makau might not have the record for long.

The Big Engine also earned a big payday in Chicago, winning $150,000 in prize money and bonuses. Mosop was only 19 years old when he competed for Kenya at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, where he finished seventh in the men’s 10,000 meters. Based on his performances in Chicago and Boston this year, Mosop is now a strong candidate to run the marathon for Kenya’s 2012 Olympic team in London.