Chicago Marathon Men's and Women's Elite Race Preview

Posted by: Watch Athletics

Defending champions Ruth Chepngetich and Seifu Tura lead the line-up at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, a World Athletics Elite Platinum Label race on 9 October. 

Chepngetich won the world marathon title in Doha and the Chicago Marathon in 2:22:31 after starting on world record pace in the first half of the race. The Kenyan marathon runner set her lifetime best of 2:17:08 in Dubai in 2019, becoming the fourth fastest runner in history. Chepngetich could not finish the race at the World Championships in Eugene, but she has won six of her eight marathon races. She claimed her most recent win in Nagoya earlier this year, improving the course record to 2:17:18. She set PBs over different distances in the 5000m on the track (15:26.70), on the 10 km on the road at the Great Manchester Run with 30:29 in 2022 and in the half marathon with 1:04:02 in Istanbul in 2021.

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Chepngetich will face Ruti Aga, Celestine Chepchirchir, Vivian Kiplagat, and Haven Hailu Desse. 

Chepchirchir won the 2019 Cape Town Marathon and improved her PB by a few minutes to 2:20:10, finishing fourth at the Seoul Marathon last April. 

Kiplagat won two editions of the Milano Marathon in 2019 in 2:22:25 and in 2022 in her lifetime best of 2:20:18. She trains with Judith Korir Jeptum, who won the Paris Marathon and the world silver medal at the World Championships in Eugene.

Kiplagat attempted to keep pace with Chepngetich during last year’s edition of the Chicago Marathon before crossing the finish line in fifth place in 2:29:14. In her career, Kiplagat won the Abu Dhabi Marathon in 2:21:11 and finished third at the Half Marathon in Copenhagen in 1:06:07. 

Aga has won just one marathon in her career in Tokyo in 2020 in 2:20:40 and reached the podium in six other races, including her third place in New York in 2019 in 2:25:51 and three times in Berlin (third in 2016 in 2:24:41, second in 2017 in 2:20:41, in 2018 in 2:18:34). 

The Ethiopian hopes are also carried by Haven Hailu Desse, who has contested just four marathon races this year. She made her marathon debut in 2020, taking the third spot in Mumbai in 2:28:56 and finished third in Amsterdam in 2021, improving her PB to 2:20:19. Desse won the first marathon race of her career in Rotterdam in 2:22:01. 

Another athlete to watch is Waganesh Makasha, who set her PB of 2:22:45 in Dubai and finished fourth in Prague at 2:27:57 last May. The Ethiopian athlete will run her first race on US soil.  

The strong US contingent is led by Emily Sisson, Sarah Sellers, Sara Vaughn, and Laura Thweatt. Two women finished on the podium in Chicago last year. 

Six-time national champion Sisson is aiming to break the US record held by Keira D’Amato with 2:19:12. Sisson holds a US half marathon record of 1:07:11 and clocked 2:23:08 on her debut over the marathon distance in London in 2019. She also has PBs in the 15 km, 20 km, and five miles. 

Thweatt finished fifth, setting her PB of 2:25:38 in London in 2017. Sellers improved her PB to 2:25:43 in Duluth in 2022. Vaughn clocked a lifetime best of 2:26:53 in Sacramento in December 2021. 

Men’s race: 

Seifu Tura Abdiwak from Ethiopia made his breakthrough in 2018 when he won two marathon races in Milan in 2:09:04 and Shanghai in 2:09:18. Last year, the Ethiopian runner improved his PB to 2:04:29 in Milan. In last year’s edition of the Chicago Marathon, he waited for 38 km to break away from the rest of the group and crossed the finish line in 2:06:12. Tura finished sixth at the World Championships in Eugene in 2:07:17. Tura is aiming to become the first back-to-back winner of the men’s race in Chicago since the double victory of Samuel Wanjiru in 2008 and 2009. 

Tura will face his compatriots Herpasa Negasa, Dawit Wolde, Asrar Abderehman, Stephen Kissa from Uganda, and Benson Kipruto. 

Negasa smashed his PB by almost six minutes when he ran 2:03:40 in Dubai in January 2019 and finished second in Seoul in 2019 at 2:04:49. He has the fastest PB in the field, but he has not won a marathon race in his career yet. 

Former 1500m specialist Dawit Wolde finished third in Rotterdam in 2021 in 2:04:27. Wolde competed for Ethiopia in the 1500m in two editions of the Olympic Games in London 2012 and Rio de Janeiro 2016 and set a PB of 3:33.27 over this distance in 2012. He finished in the top three in his past four marathon races, won in Prague in 2019 at 2:06:18, and finished second in Frankfurt in 2019 at 2:07:10. 

Abderehaman set the course record at the Seville Marathon, improving his PB by three minutes to 2:04:43.

Kissa has the fastest seasonal best of this weekend’s line-up, with his PB of 2:04:48 set in his debut over the marathon distance in Hamburg last April, and he improved his lifetime best to 27:26.46 in the 10000m on the track in Hengelo in 2021. 

Kipruto won two marathon races in 2021 in Boston in 2:09:51 and Prague in 2:10:16. He finished third in Boston in 2:07:27 in 2022 and set his PB of 2:05:13 in Toronto in 2019. 

Another athlete to watch is Elisha Rotich, who won the Paris Marathon in 2021 with 2:04:21 and five other international races.

Jemal Yimer completes the line-up, Ethiopian half marathon record holder Shifera Temu, winner at the Daegu Marathon in 2:06:31, Ethiopia’s Abeyneh Degu, fifth in the Paris Marathon in 2021 with 2:04:53, and Kenya’s Eric Kiptanui, who improved his PB to 2:05:47 in Siena in 2021. 

US runner Conner Mantz won the US Half Marathon title in 2021 and is coached by 1984 Chicago Marathon runner-up Ed Eyestone, and Patrick Tiernan, who clocked a PB of 27:22.55 in the 10000m in 2020, will make their marathon debut on Sunday.

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