Kenyans Chumba and Kiplagat seek to defend titles tomorrow
Defending champions Dickson Chumba and Florence Kiplagat will be seeking to retain thier title during the 2016 edition of the Chicago Marathon tomorrow.
Chumba took home his third career marathon victory in Chicago last year, breaking the lead pack with three miles to go after a slow and tactical race, the first race in more than two decades without pacesetters.
The 2012 champion Tsegaye Kebede’s, whose last run in Chicago four years ago resulted in a PB and a course record is also among the previous winners confirmed.
Kenya’s Micah Kogo and Stephen Sambu are also in the elite field. Kogo might not have a marathon victory on his resume, but he does have an Olympic bronze medal in the 10,000m and a track best of 26:35:63, making him the sixth-fastest man in history at the distance.
He has a well-established career on the track but a major marathon championship continues to elude him so he will arrive in Chicago eager to rewrite that storyline.
Sambu has raced exceptionally well in Chicago, and netted a pair of victories at the 2015 and 2016 Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K, but his potential in the marathon remains unknown. Sambu brings 10,000m speed ( 26:54:61 ) and halfmarathon endurance ( 1:00:41 ) into his marathon debut.
Kenya’s Gideon Kipketer and USA’s Luke Puskedra could also be in the hunt for a podium finish while Koji Gokaya leads a strong contingent of Japanese runners with a personal best of 2:09:21.
Kiplagat, the world record-holder in the half-marathon with 1:05:09, returns to Chicago to defend the title she won last year when she captured her first Chicago Marathon victory in 2:23:33.
Ethiopia’s Atsede Baysa and Gulume Chala as well as Kenya’s Valentine Kipketer could to make it difficult for Kiplagat to defend her title.
Baysa, the 2010 and 2012 Chicago Marathon champion, stands out as Kiplagat’s main challenger on paper. She is the reigning Boston Marathon champion and has victories in the past at the Paris (twice), Istanbul, Xiamen and Saitama marathons.
Baysa made a statement in Chicago in 2012 when she beat her opponent to the line by one second in an all-out sprint finish down Columbus Drive, running a PB of 2:22:03.
Kipketer, making her Chicago Marathon debut, looked ripe for a podium finish with four miles to go at this year’s Boston Marathon but faded to fifth. Nevertheless, the 23-year- old Kipketer has a marathon best of 2:23:02 and two previous victories in Amsterdam and Mumbai, so she could be a factor.
Chala recorded her personal best when she won the 2015 Frankfurt Marathon, stopping the clock at 2:23:12.
HSA’s Serena Burla will be hoping to prevent an East African sweep. Burla has run faster than 2:30:00 twice during her career and was the 2014 US Half Marathon champion. She also turned in one of the most impressive US marathon performances last year when she finished 10th at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015.