Two weeks after running fans were treated to a fantastic race in Berlin, yet another must-watch marathon is on tap for Sunday morning in Chicago.
RELATED: How to follow the 2017 Chicago Marathon.
The 40th Bank of America Chicago Marathon, the fifth of the calendar year’s six Abbott World Marathon Majors, is expected to feature as many as 40,000 runners, with hundreds of them being Canadian. According to the Chicago Tribune, as many as 1.7 million spectators will line the route in what is considered one of the faster big-city marathons in the world. Interestingly, and unlike most major marathons, there are no designated pacemakers, runners paid to lead portions of a race with the aim of helping finishers to fast times, in Chicago.
No American has won the Chicago Marathon since 2002 for men (Khalid Khannouchi) and 2005 for women (Deena Kastor).
When: Oct. 8, 7:30 a.m. CDT, 8:30 a.m. EDT
How (to watch): Live streaming details here
Who: Tirunesh Dibaba, Galen Rupp, Jordan Hasay, Dennis Kimetto, Feyisa Lilesa, Abel Kirui, Stanley Biwott, Zersenay Tadese and Florence Kiplagat.
Like the 2017 Boston Marathon, the Chicago Marathon will have two Americans – Galen Rupp and Jordan Hasay – in contention for the podium, if not the win. With a combined four marathons between the two teammates with the controversial Oregon Project, they have never finished off the podium in a marathon. Rupp won the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, won a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympics and finished second at the Boston Marathon. Hasay produced the fastest marathon by an American woman in history when she finished third in Boston in 2:23:00.
Chicago has attracted world-class international fields, in addition to its domestic fields, including Kenya’s Dennis Kimetto, the men’s marathon world record holder (2:02:57), and Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba, for which a case could be argued for being among the great distance runners of all-time. Dibaba, who has run 2:17:56, is a three-time Olympic champion, five-time world champion and the women’s 5,000m world record holder. (She’s the older sister of Genzebe Dibaba, in case the name rings a bell.) Two-time defending Chicago Marathon champion Florence Kiplagat is one of the favourites in addition to Dibaba, who has run two marathons in her lifetime.
With Chicago being a fast course if conditions are favourable, minimal wind for example, some are speculating just how fast the American Rupp can run. (Not to mention Hasay’s potential too.) He’s performed well in all three marathons he’s run but has a lifetime best, of 2:09:58, six minutes slower than Kimetto. In fact, Rupp is the ninth-ranked man in the field by PB, though to his credit, none of the marathons he’s raced have been won in extremely fast times.
The main challengers in the men’s race will be Kimetto, who has not run well in recent years since breaking the WR, though he is the course record holder in Chicago, having run 2:03:45, Feyisa Lilesa, the Olympic marathon silver medallist who made global headlines for his finish line protest in Rio, and Abel Kirui, the two-time world champion who resurrected his career with a win at the 2016 Chicago Marathon. (Not to be confused with 2017 world champion and Boston winner Geoffrey Kirui.) Stanley Biwott, the 2015 New York City Marathon winner, is also a factor, and has the second-fastest PB (2:03:51) in the field. The Kenyan has DNFed his past two marathons.
Finally, one other name to keep an eye on is Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadese, the half-marathon world record holder, who has an unofficial marathon PB of 2:06:51, which he ran at Nike’s Breaking2 attempt in May 2017. (His record-eligible PB is 2:10:41.)
There are no Canadians in the men’s or women’s elite fields for Chicago.
Watch the live stream of the race, with details here, on Sunday morning.