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Kelvin Kiptum and Molly Seidel to race 2023 Chicago Marathon

The second-fastest marathoner in history will not face Kipchoge at Berlin after all

2023 London Marathon Kiptum Photo by: James Rhodes

The second-fastest marathoner in history, Kelvin Kiptum, has announced his fall marathon plans. The 2023 Chicago Marathon revealed on Tuesday morning that Kiptum will make his North American marathon debut on Oct. 8, postponing the highly anticipated potential clash against Eliud Kipchoge, who will appear at the 2023 Berlin Marathon.

In the last eight months, Kiptum has emerged as one of the world’s fastest marathoners. In December, he made his marathon debut at the 2022 Valencia Marathon, securing a commanding victory in a remarkable 2:01:53, the fastest debut in history. He continued his dominance at the 2023 London Marathon, where he shattered Kipchoge’s course record and came remarkably close to the world record, with a 2:01:25 finish.

Despite his achievements in London, Kiptum remains relatively unknown on the major marathon scene. The 23-year-old from Eldoret, Kenya, is self-coached and did not enter marathoning from a prolific track career like Kipchoge, or Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele.

Kelvin Kiptum London Marathon
Photo: Kevin Morris

In June, Kiptum was selected for Team Kenya in the 2023 World Athletics Championships marathon. However, he declined the invitation to focus on a fall marathon instead. With Kiptum eyeing either Chicago or Berlin, many anticipated a head-to-head battle between the two Kenyan titans in Berlin, renowned for its flat and incredibly fast course, having been the location where the previous eight men’s marathon world records were set.

Choosing Chicago, which takes place two weeks after Berlin, clearly indicates Kiptum’s intent to vie for a victory and target Kipchoge’s world record of 2:01:09. Chicago’s primarily flat course, with only 70 metres of elevation gain, offers a promising setting. 

Eliud Kipchoge says he’s not worried about Kelvin Kiptum in potential Berlin Marathon clash

However, a win in Chicago won’t come easy, as Kiptum will face off against one of the best tactical marathoners in the world and the reigning champion, Benson Kipruto. Kipruto comes off a second-place finish at the 2023 Boston Marathon, where he was runner-up to his training partner, Evans Chebet. Ethiopia’s Seifu Tura, who knows the Chicago course well, having won the race in 2021 and finished as runner-up to Kipruto last fall, will also return. Among the other elite names in the men’s field are Galen Rupp, Conner Mantz and Belgian 2020 Olympic marathon bronze medallist Bashir Abdi.

The stacked women’s field

With defending two-time Chicago Marathon champion Ruth Chepngetich, London Marathon champion Sifan Hassan and American record holder Emily Sisson already announced, the organizers revealed the rest of the women’s field to challenge for the title. Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba, Joyciline Jepkosgei, and U.S. Olympic bronze medallist Molly Seidel are several of the big names joining the stacked field of elite women in Chicago.

Seidel’s marathon return

It has been nearly two years since Seidel has last completed a marathon (fourth place finish at the 2021 NYC Marathon), but Chicago will mark her first marathon start line since April 2022. Over the past two years, Seidel has struggled with mental health and a hip injury. whihc kept her out of the 2022 world championsiips and Nagoya Women’s Marathon in the spring. So far this season, Seidel is healthy and having fun on the trails and roads–most recently competing at the B.A.A.10K in Boston last month and placing second at the Speedgoat 28k trail run.

Chepngetich vs. Hassan

Last year, Chepngetich secured her second consecutive title and came incredibly close to breaking Brigid Kosgei’s marathon world record of 2:14:04, missing it by just 14 seconds. This time around, her goal is to surpass Kosgei’s record and solidify her status as a three-time champion at Chicago. Sharing her confidence, Chepngetich stated, “There’s no better race in the world than the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.”

Sifan Hassan
Photo: Kevin Morris

To claim her third title, Chepngetich will have to overcome the formidable Hassan, a two-time Olympic gold medallist and three-time world champion from the Netherlands. In April, Hassan made a remarkable marathon debut by winning the London Marathon. Despite stopping to stretch twice during the race, she closed a 25-second gap on the leaders and set a new Dutch national record of 2:18:33. Hassan’s summer plans include returning to the track for the 5,000m/10,000m double at the 2023 World Athletics Championships in Budapest in late August, a mere six weeks before her appearance in Chicago. Hassan’s exceptional performances after short preparation periods, such as her 10,000m world lead just six weeks after the London Marathon, demonstrate her ability to adapt swiftly.

“I will see how my body responds and how my mind handles it,” stated Hassan, acknowledging the challenges ahead. “The good thing is that I have experience from London, so I’m looking forward to seeing what Chicago can teach me this time.”

Jepkosgei wants three

In four of her last six marathons, Kenya’s Jepkosgei has consistently performed at a sub-2:22 level. At 29 years old, she already boasts two Abbott World Marathon Major titles and is now aiming to secure a third in Chicago. Jepkosgei has showcased her ability to conquer both hilly and flat terrains, triumphing at the London and New York marathons. With Chicago expected to be a fast race, she enters as the second-fastest woman in the field and presents herself as a dark horse contender alongside Chepngetich and Hassan.

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