The Bank of America Chicago Marathon never disappoints. From world class runners to fast times, Chicago Marathon race day is always one to remember. And the 2014 race is no exception, especially when it comes to the elite field that will be toeing the line on Sunday, October 12.
“This year’s field is built for speed and record-breaking performances,” said Bank of America Chicago Marathon Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski. “We have big expectations due to this group of men and women who know how to race, dig deep and win.”
The Bank of America Chicago Marathon recently announced that the elite competition would feature five men with personal records of 2:05 or faster, and four women who have the potential to finish under 2:20. The men are Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele (2:05:04) and Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge (2:04:05), Sammy Kitwara (2:05:16), Bernard Koech (2:04:53) and Dickson Chumba (2:05:42). The women are 2013 champion Rita Jeptoo (2:18:57), Kenya’s Florence Kiplagat (2:19:44) and Jemima Sumgong (2:20:48), and Ethiopia’s Birhane Dibaba (2:22:30), who is a relative newcomer to the marathon circuit.
Bekele and Kipchoge have faced off against one another in competition several times over the last decade with their first head-to-head race at the 2003 IAAF World Championships in the 5,000m. In the last year or so, both runners have transitioned to the marathon after having strong careers in the shorter distances. Bekele currently holds the 5,000m and 10,000m records; Kipchoge already holds a 2014 marathon win, taking the title at the Rotterdam Marathon.
“I am looking forward to coming to Chicago and competing with Kenenisa on the road this time. I chose Chicago because it has a fast course and I want to better my personal best. It’s also one of the best races in the world,” Kipchoge said.
But Chicago is hardly going to be a two-man race to the finish. Bekele and Kipchoge may already have a friendly rivalry going, but they’re going to face some tough competition from Sammy Kitwara, who has experience on the Windy City’s flat and fast course. Kitwara will be racing Chicago for the third time and clocked a 2:05:54 the first time he ran here, which also happened to be his debut marathon.
“I am coming back to Chicago for the third time. Chicago is a nice city and it has a good sports atmosphere. I will try to run the race of my life this year, and if God gives me the strength, my target is to run 2:04:28,” Kitwara said.
For the women, Jeptoo and Sumgong, who are training partners, are no strangers to the Chicago Marathon course. Both raced side-by-side last year with Sumgong sticking with Jeptoo through 35K and then clocking a personal best 2:20:48. While the duo would love to repeat what they did last year, Kiplagat would love to change things up.
“I was supposed to compete in the Chicago marathon two years ago but was out due to injury, but I am happy now to be part of the competition for my fans and supporters. It is no retreat and no surrender for me; it’s a do-or-die game and I will give all my best to succeed and make the 12th of October a great day!” Kiplagat said. Kiplagat won the Berlin Marathon in 2011 and 2013, and it’s where she clocked her 2:19 PR.
Another elite who could steal the show is Birhane Dibaba, who is fresh off a win at the 2014 Suja Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Half Marathon. Dibaba is the youngest competitor in the elite field, but she has already run six marathons after starting when she was 18.
“Running the Chicago Marathon has been my dream since I started running, and it will be my first big race. My goal is to win and run 2 hours, 20 minutes or faster,” Dibaba said.
For more information about the 2014 Chicago Marathon, check out the marathon website.