Ruth Chepngetich celebrates her win at the 2021 Bank of America Chicago Marathon (© AFP / Getty Images)
Ruth Chepngetich and Seifu Tura will defend their Bank of America Chicago Marathon titles on Sunday (9) but will take on stronger fields than they faced last year at the World Athletics Elite Platinum Label road race.
Chepngetich, the 2019 world champion, has won six of the eight marathons she has completed to date, and has finished on the podium in the other two. The Kenyan’s most recent victory came in Nagoya earlier this year when she smashed the course record with 2:17:18, just 10 seconds she of the PB she set in Dubai in 2019.
She has set PBs at a range of distances this year, on the road and track, so she could be in form to improve on her marathon best this weekend, provided she doesn’t go out too hard like she did in Chicago last year.
Ruti Aga looks to be one of Chepngetich’s strongest opponents. The Ethiopian has won just one marathon to date, but she has reached the podium in six other races, including New York in 2019 and three times in Berlin. Her PB of 2:18:34 was set in the German capital four years ago, while her last completed marathon was in Valencia in 2020.
Kenya’s Celestine Chepchirchir heads into this weekend’s race in good form, having taken a few minutes off her PB to finish fourth in Seoul earlier this year in 2:20:10.
Compatriot Vivian Kiplagat won in Milan earlier this year in a PB of 2:20:18. She will be keen to improve upon her fifth-place finish in Chicago last year.
Haven Hailu is still a relative newcomer to the marathon, having contested just four races at the distance. She won in Rotterdam earlier this year in 2:22:01, not far off her 2:20:19 PB set in Amsterdam last year. Fellow Ethiopian Waganesh Mekasha is also one to watch. A 2:22:45 performer at her best, she will be contesting her first marathon in the US.
US women occupied two places on the podium in Chicago last year, and this Sunday Emily Sisson hopes to follow in those footsteps. A relative newcomer to the marathon, she clocked 2:23:08 on her debut at the distance in London in 2019. Earlier this year she broke the US half marathon record with 1:07:11 and has also set PBs for 15km, 20km and five miles.
One year on from his Chicago Marathon triumph, Tura returns to the US in good form as the Ethiopian aims to become the first back-to-back winner of the men’s race for more than a decade.
Tura, whose PB of 2:04:29 was set in Milan last year, started 2022 with a half marathon PB of 58:36 in Ras Al Khaimah. He followed that with a runner-up finish in Paris (2:05:10) and then went on to place sixth at the World Championships in Oregon.
Compatriot Herpasa Negasa has the fastest PB of the field, having clocked 2:03:40 in Dubai in 2019. He came close to that when finishing second in Seoul earlier this year in 2:04:49, but he is yet to win a marathon so he will be highly motivated this weekend.
Bernard Koech is another experienced marathon runner who has not yet won a race over the classic distance. He hasn’t raced since last October when he finished second in Amsterdam in a PB of 2:04:09.
Fellow Kenyan Elisha Rotich, meanwhile, is a winner of six international marathons. His most recent race over the distance was his 2:04:21 victory in Paris last year.
Former 1500m specialist Dawit Wolde, who represented Ethiopia in that event at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games, has transitioned to the marathon in recent years. He was third in Rotterdam last year in 2:04:27 and has finished on the podium in his past four marathons, including a win in Prague in 2019.
Stephen Kissa is even newer to the marathon. The Ugandan track specialist made a promising debut in Hamburg earlier this year, setting a national record of 2:04:48, which is also the fastest season’s best of this weekend’s line-up.
Others to look out for include 2021 Boston winner Benson Kipruto, Ethiopian half marathon record-holder Jemal Yimer, Daegu marathon champion Shifera Tamru, fellow Ethiopian Abayneh Degu, and Kenya’s Eric Kiptanui.
Ruth Chepngetich (KEN) 2:17:08
Ruti Aga (ETH) 2:18:34
Celestine Chepchirchir (KEN) 2:20:10
Vivian Kiplagat (KEN) 2:20:18
Haven Hailu Desse (ETH) 2:20:19
Waganesh Mekasha (ETH) 2:22:45
Emily Sisson (USA) 2:23:08
Delvine Meringor (ROU) 2:24:32
Laura Thweatt (USA) 2:25:38
Sara Vaughn (USA) 2:26:53
Susanna Sullivan (USA) 2:26:56
Diane Nukuri (USA) 2:27:50
Herpasa Negasa (ETH) 2:03:40
Bernard Koech (KEN) 2:04:09
Elisha Rotich (KEN) 2:04:21
Dawit Wolde (ETH) 2:04:27
Seifu Tura (ETH) 2:04:29
Stephen Kissa (UGA) 2:04:48
Abayneh Degu (ETH) 2:04:53
Benson Kipruto (KEN) 2:05:13
Shifera Tamru (ETH) 2:05:18
Eric Kiptanui (KEN) 2:05:47
Kyohei Hosoya (JPN) 2:06:35
Hamza Sahli (MAR) 2:07:15
Amanuel Mesel (ERI) 2:08:17
Hiroto Fujimagari (JPN) 2:08:20
Guojian Dong (CHN) 2:08:26
Kiyoshi Koga (JPN) 2:08:30
Riki Nakanishi (JPN) 2:08:51
Jemal Yimer (ETH) 2:08:58