Impressive Elite Field Promises an Exciting Chicago Marathon

Written by: Shannon Polk, Kudos Team Contributor

Another World Marathon Major is upon us – this time it’s in Chicago. We’re excited to watch and support the over 40,000 athletes that will compete in the 41st Chicago Marathon this Sunday. Known for its flat terrain, the course runs through 29 Chicago neighborhoods with over 1.5 million spectators cheering on wheelchair competitors, handcyclers and runners, including an elite field that will have the crowd buzzing with excitement. So who are this year’s major contenders? 

The Elite Women
Coming in with the fastest time in the women’s division at 2:19:17, Roza Dereje (ETH) will certainly be one to watch alongside her compatriot Birhane Dibaba (ETH), who has a personal best of 2:19:51. At the Dubai Marathon in January, Dereje improved her PR by three minutes, so it will be interesting to see if she can knock some more time off the clock in Chicago, her first World Marathon Major. She also has the advantage of not having to compete against Amy Cragg (USA), who finished ahead of Dereje at last year’s world championships and this year’s Tokyo Marathon but had to withdraw from the from the Chicago Marathon due to a heel issue. American Jordan Hasay, a serious contender for the podium, also withdrew from the race due to an ongoing injury, which opened up a spot for Florence Kiplagat (KEN), the second-fastest woman in the elite filed with a PR of 2:19:44. Other medal contenders include Brigid Kosgei (KEN) and Shure Demise (ETH), both holding PRs at the 2:20 mark. 

Although their PRs reflect a more challenging road to the podium, Americans Laura Thweatt (2:25:38), Sarah Crouch (2:32:44) and Gwen Jorgensen (2:41:01) will be working to improve their times and finish in the top 10. Alexi Pappas, who holds dual citizenship in the U.S. and Greece, will also be making her debut at the Chicago Marathon. 

The Elite Men
The men’s roster looks to be even more competitive than the women with less difference between the athletes’ PRs. Holding a personal best of 2:04:00, Mosinet Geremew (ETH) tops the roster, followed by his compatriot Birhanu Legese (ETH), who has a PR of 2:04:15. The Ethiopians will be challenged by an accomplished group of Kenyans, including Dickson Chumba (2:04:32), Abel Kirui (2:05:04), Kenneth Kipkemoi (2:05:44) and Bernard Kipyego (2:06:19). The American to watch is Galen Rupp, who won last year’s Chicago Marathon and finished this year’s Prague Marathon with a PR of 2:06:07 despite not finishing the Boston Marathon just weeks earlier. And newer to the marathon race – but certainly not to be discounted – is four-time Olympic gold medalist Mo Farah. He finished third at the London Marathon earlier this year with a PR of 2:06:21. 

Others to watch include Yuki Kawauchi (JPN), who impressed everyone with his win at this year’s Boston Marathon, and Elkanah Kibet (USA), who has finished in the top 10 twice in the Chicago Marathon as well as at this year’s Boston Marathon. Americans Tyler McCandless and Aaron Braun will also be competing among the elites with PRs of 2:12:28 and 2:12:54, respectively. 

PRs aside, the weather will certainly be a factor on Sunday. As of now, the forecast looks rainy, but we’ll cross our fingers for anything better than the downpour we saw in Boston this year.

Good luck to all of the participants and kudos to the volunteers and spectators who make the Chicago Marathon such an uplifting, memorable event! And, if you want something to put your finisher medal in or would like to congratulate someone you know who is participating this year, pre-order your Kudos Coaster Plus here and get 20% off!