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Galen Rupp Faces Fast International Field at Chicago

Date: 
08/10/2018 - 17:15

CHICAGO – The Bank of America Chicago Marathon announced that several international running stars are joining the 41st annual Bank of America Chicago Marathon elite athlete competition in October. Past champions Abel Kirui (KEN) and Dickson Chumba (KEN) lead the charge on the men’s side, and 2017 runner-up Brigid Kosgei (KEN) and two-time podium finisher Birhane Dibaba (ETH) stand out among the women. They will join previously announced global sensations Mo Farah (GBR), Yuki Kawauchi (JPN) and Suguru Osako (JPN).
American Galen Rupp won last year’s race in 2:09:30.

This year’s elite field includes 11 men who have run 2:07 or faster and nine women (including three Americans) who have run 2:25 or faster. Moreover, it features five of the top eight men who placed on top of the Abbott World Marathon Majors (AbbottWMM) Series XI leaderboard and two of the top seven women.

“We have put together an exciting elite field, and it should be a fast race to the top of the podium,” said Bank of America Chicago Marathon Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski. “This year’s elite field is a collection of some of the best international and American athletes running on the global stage today. We are confident that they will continue the great tradition of memorable and record setting performances in Chicago.”

Men’s International Field
Dickson Chumba set his personal best, 2:04:32, in Chicago in 2014 when he finished third on a historic day that witnessed three of the top five times ever run in Chicago (Chumba is the fifth fastest runner in Chicago’s history). He came back to win in 2015 and while he tried to defend his title in 2016, he came up three seconds short, finishing second to Abel Kirui. Since he embarked on his marathon career in 2010, he has finished 17 marathons and he boasts an impressive record: five wins, five runner-ups and four third place finishes. He lines up this fall after opening his 2018 season with his second win at the Tokyo Marathon. His time, 2:05:30, was the second fastest winning time in Tokyo’s history. Chumba finished in fifth place on the AbbottWMM Series XI leaderboard.

Abel Kirui literally danced across the finish line when he won his first AbbottWMM in Chicago in 2016, defeating a strong field in a tactical race that saw erratic pace swings from 4:33 per mile to 5:24. He returned in 2017 to defend his title, but he failed to match Galen Rupp’s kick at the end. Kirui consistently performs well in both tactical and paced races; he finished fourth in London to commence his 2018 season, and he owns a personal best of 2:05:04. Kirui also stands out as one of the most decorated athletes in the field – he took home a silver medal in the marathon at the 2012 London Olympics and he won both the 2009 and 2011 IAAF World Marathon Championships.

Mosinet Geremew (ETH) and Birhanu Legese (ETH) bring both youth and speed to a competitive international field. Geremew started 2018 with a bang, breaking the course record in Dubai and posting a fresh personal best, 2:04:00. He has run south of the hour mark four times in the half marathon, and he is a four-time winner of the Yangzhou Jianzhen International Half Marathon. Chicago marks his second shot at competing in an AbbottWMM (and just his fourth go at 42K). He lined up last fall in Berlin and ran away with an impressive third place finish. Legese, the youngest athlete in this year’s elite field, opened the year by making his marathon debut in Dubai, finishing sixth in a swift 2:04:15. Prior to moving up in distance, he specialized in the half marathon, winning titles in New Delhi (twice), Berlin and the United Arab Emirates. He holds a personal best in the half of 59:20.

Kenneth Kipkemoi (KEN), Paul Lonyangata (KEN), Geoffrey Kirui (KEN), Bedan Karoki (KEN), Stephen Sambu (KEN) and Augustine Choge (KEN) continue the marathon’s tradition of welcoming strong athletes from Kenya to the windy city. Kipkemoi boasts the 25th fastest time in history over the half marathon distance, 59:01, and he started 2018 with a successful marathon debut, running 2:05:44 to win the Rotterdam Marathon. He has represented Kenya in both the half marathon and the 10,000m at the IAAF World Championships.

Lonyangata just missed a spot in the top three in Chicago in 2016, coming home in fourth after enduring uneven pace swings. He set his personal best, 2:06:10, while winning the 2017 Paris Marathon, and he welcomed 2018 by becoming the first back-to-back winner of the Paris Marathon in nearly two decades. Geoffrey Kirui experienced a significant career breakthrough when he won the laurel wreath at the 2017 Boston Marathon, shaking off American Galen Rupp in the 24th mile to cruise home to victory. That win set him up for what happened next: he took the crown at the 2017 IAAF World Marathon Championships. Kirui returned to Boston this spring to defend his title, but he failed to match the strides of a hard charging Yuki Kawauchi and he was forced to settle for second. October marks Kirui’s second attempt in Chicago – he made his marathon debut here in 2014, but he dropped out of the race.

Karoki, a two-time Olympian in the 10,000m, is an exciting athlete who made his marathon debut in 2017. Prior to jumping to the marathon, he spent nearly a decade polishing his speed on the track, representing Kenya three times in the 10,000m at the IAAF World Championships. He made a splash this winter when he won the Ras Al Khaimah International Half Marathon in a blistering 58:42, making him the fourth fastest man in history in the half (with the fifth fastest time). He finished second at the 2016 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships, and he has finished third and fifth at the London Marathon in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

As a four-time winner of the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K (with three of the 14 fastest times in course history), Sambu returns to Chicago as a fan favorite. He made his marathon debut here in 2016 with a fifth place finish, and he returned in 2017 to accrue another fifth place. Sambu’s speed over shorter distances predicts a faster marathon PR. With the reintroduction of pacers into this year’s field, Sambu could finally land in the top three.

Choge, a 2008 Olympian in the 1500m, has been a factor on the global stage for nearly half his life. He competed as a junior and, as a senior competitor, he has amassed an impressive resume: a world record as part of the 4x1500m Kenyan relay team, a Commonwealth Games 5000m win, a silver and bronze at the indoor IAAF World Championships, five Diamond League titles and eight Gold League wins. Choge started his transition to the roads in 2013 and he holds a personal best of 59:26 in the half. He will be making his marathon debut on October 7.

Ryo Kiname (JPN) joins previously announced Kawauchi as strong contender from Japan. Kiname, racing in North America for the first time, enters Chicago with a fresh personal best and a seventh place finish from the 2018 Tokyo Marathon, 2:08:08. He has one marathon career win to his name – the Sapporo Hokkaido Marathon in 2016.

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