The 50th running of the New York City Marathon is set to kick off this Sunday, November 7th, with a stacked field of elites in the men’s, women’s and wheelchair events. Olympic champion, Kenya’s Peres Jepchirchir will headline the women’s race, and Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele will be the one to watch on the men’s side, only six weeks after placing third in the Berlin Marathon. Canadian fans will also have the opportunity to cheer on a few of our country’s top females, including Rachel Hannah and 2016 Olympian Krista DuChene.
The women’s race
In the final weeks leading up to the race, several prominent athletes have scratched from the women’s start list, including Emily Sisson, Aliphine Tuliamuk, and Des Linden. Regardless, the elite field is still start-studded, and running fans everywhere will have the opportunity to watch the two of the top three finishers at the Tokyo Olympic Marathon go head-to-head again only three months after taking the streets of Sapporo. Jepchirchir, the Tokyo Olympic gold medallist, will be vying for the top spot on the podium once again, and her resume as a two-time world champion in the half-marathon with a marathon personal best of 2:17:16 will make her the favourite to take home the win.
When they’re not watching Jepchirchir, all eyes will be on American Molly Seidel to see what she’ll accomplish in New York after her unbelievable bronze-medal performance in Tokyo. After her summer success, Seidel moved to Flagstaff, Ariz. from Boston to focus on her marathon build, feeling confident heading into the race. Namibia’s Helalia Johannes, a four-time Olympian and 2019 World Championships bronze medalist, will also be fighting for a spot on the podium, as will Ethiopia’s Ruti Aga, who won the Tokyo Marathon in 2020 and finished third at the TCS New York City Marathon in 2019.
Other notable athletes who will be taking to the streets of the Big Apple include the 2019 Chicago Marathon runner-up Ababel Yeshaneh, Greece’s 10,000-meter record-holder Alexi Pappas, five-time Olympian Bernard Lagat’s sister, Viola Cheptoo, and 2012 Olympic silver medalist Sally Kipyego. Hannah and DuChene will be joined by Kate Gustafson and 2016 Olympian Lanni Marchant as the top Canadians to watch out for on Sunday.
The men’s race
The match-up of the weekend on the men’s side will be between Olympic silver medallist Abdi Nageeye of the Netherlands and Bekele, a four-time Olympic medallist. Bekele attempted to break the marathon world record only six weeks ago in Berlin, but unfortunately came up short. While the New York Marathon course is not known for running world-record paces, he will no doubt be looking for redemption after his third-place finish in Germany.
This will be Bekele’s first time running the New York City Marathon, where he will be joined by several other first-timers, including half-marathon world record-holder, Kenya’s Kibiwott Kandie, and Great Britain’s Callum Hawkins. The top American at the last two NYC Marathons, Jared Ward, will also be on the start line and will have tough competition against a six-time U.S. national champion, Ben True, who is making his marathon debut. The second and third-place finishers from the 2019 New York Marathon, Kenya’s Albert Korir and Ethiopia’s Girma Bekele Gebre, will also be making their return on Sunday to defend their spots on the podium.
The wheelchair division
There will be plenty of big names to watch out for in the wheelchair division on Sunday, with all eyes on marathon world record-holder, American Daniel Romanchuk, who will be on the hunt for his third consecutive win, after he was the youngest athlete ever (and the first American) to win the New York Marathon in 2018. Despite his recent success, Romanchuk isn’t a guaranteed win, and three-time New York champion, Marcel Hug of Switzerland, will be challenging him for the title. Both para-athletes are within a few points of one another in the Abbott World Majors Series X standings. Romanchuk leads Hug by nine points going into the final race of the year. If Hug wins, he will close the gap and win the Abbott Series X title, plus the US$100,000 prize purse for the first-place. It’s safe to say a lot is on the line for these two para-athletes.
South Africa’s Ernst van Dyk, who’s also won twice and is a 10-time winner of the Boston Marathon, and eight-time London Marathon champion David Weir, will also be vying for a spot on the podium.
On the women’s side, Switzerland’s Manuela Schär will be looking for her fourth consecutive win on Sunday, and if she succeeds, it will be her 10th consecutive Abbott World Marathon Majors race title. Although Schär has already clinched the Abbott Series X title, she will be facing off against 2020 London Marathon champion Nikita den Boer of the Netherlands, five-time champion and 17-time Paralympic medalist Tatyana McFadden of the U.S. and two-time champion and seven-time U.S. Paralympic medalist Amanda McGrory.