It’s been a busy year of running marathons for Rita Jeptoo and the U.S.’s Tatyana McFadden. The two defending champions of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon—Jeptoo, from Kenya, in the women’s foot race and McFadden, from the U.S., in the women’s wheelchair race—captured World Marathon Majors victories in April at the 118th running of the Boston Marathon, and now they’re poised to return to Chicago in October to defend their titles.
The Bank of America Chicago Marathon recently announced that the two would be returning to Chicago to chase consecutive titles. “Rita Jeptoo and Tatyana McFadden are among two of the fastest and most exciting athletes competing in the world today,” said Bank of America Chicago Marathon Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski. “They know how to close a race with the kind of finishing speed that really makes them stand out. To have them come back to defend their titles sets the stage for another year of sensational racing in Chicago.”
Jeptoo had a breakthrough race at last year’s Chicago Marathon where she ran her first sub-2:20 marathon. Her 2:19:57 was the fastest women’s marathon time of 2013. She opened her 2014 running season with a win in Boston where she not only ran a personal best but she smashed the previous course record by almost two minutes. She has the potential to become only the third woman in history to run three sub-2:20 marathons. Only former Chicago Marathon winners and World Record holders, Catherine Ndereba (KEN), and Paula Radcliffe (GBR), have accomplished this feat—and it’s been more than a decade since they’ve done so.
McFadden has already had a pretty impressive year, grabbing a silver medal at the Paralympics in Sochi in March, then winning consecutive titles in London and Boston in April. She’ll return to capture her fourth consecutive wheelchair Chicago Marathon victory and her fifth in the last six years. McFadden, who grew up in Maryland, shattered Chicago’s long-standing course record in 2013, breaking the record previously set in 1992 with her 1:42:35 finish. Her 10 WMM victories in just six years of elite marathon racing highlight her world-class dominance among a competitive field of elite women. She is the only athlete ever to win four WMM (Boston, London, Chicago and New York) in the same year. Like Jeptoo, McFadden holds a convincing edge over her competitors.
McFadden got her racing start at the University of Illinois, which is known for its wheelchair track and field program. She’s a four-time Paralympian and a U.S. 10-time Summer Paralympic track and field medalist. This winter she transferred those skills to skis when she competed at the Paralympic Winter Games for the first time. She took home a silver medal in cross-country skiing while in Sochi. Barely more than a month later, she was atop the podium again at London, where she broke her own course record in 2014, and Boston, where she set a personal best and narrowly missed breaking the course record.
The 2014 Bank of America Chicago Marathon will be held Sunday, October 12, and is expected to draw more than a million spectators while generating $243 million in annual economic impact to the city. For more details on the race, check out its website at chicagomarathon.com.