Florence Kiplagat wins the Chicago Marathon (© Getty Images)
Marathon world record-holder Dennis Kimetto and defending champion Florence Kiplagat will return to the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Sunday 9 October.
Kimetto and Kiplagat stand out in a pair of outstanding fields for the men’s and women’s races that includes five past champions.
Chicago marks the site of Kimetto's North American all-comers' record of 2:03:45 three years ago. The Kenyan became the first runner in history to cover each 5km segment within 14:50. He then made history at the 2014 Berlin Marathon when he became the first person to run faster than 2:03, crossing the finish line in a world record of 2:02:57.
Kimetto's run from the start line in Grant Park to the finish line down Columbus Drive will be contested by defending champion Dickson Chumba of Kenya and 2012 champion Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia.
In spite of his world record in 2014, Kimetto has struggled to get back on top of the podium, which will make the 2016 Chicago Marathon anything but a one-man show.
Chumba took home his third career marathon victory at the 2015 Chicago Marathon, 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.
Kebede's last run in Chicago four years ago resulted in a PB and a course record – later broken by Kimetto – of 2:04:38 but he is also remembered for his 2010 runner-up finish in an epic head-to-head battle against the late Sammy Wanjiru.
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 half-marathon 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.
Baysa the big threat to Kipketer
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.
Highlighting an internationally diverse field is Danish Olympian Jessica Draskau Petersson, Polish champion Agnieszka Mierzejewska and 2012 British Olympian Freya Ross, the latter having a best of 2:28:10.
Ross, coached by 1984 and 1985 Chicago Marathon champion Steve Jones, is returning to elite competition after a broken hip derailed her running plans in 2014 and 2015.
Organisers for the IAAF
Elite fields (with PBs)
Dennis Kimetto (KEN) 2:02:57
Dickson Chumba (KEN) 2:04:32
Tsegaye Kebede (ETH) 2:04:38
Abel Kirui (KEN) 2:05:04
Micah Kogo (KEN) 2:06:56
Gideon Kipketer (KEN) 2:08:14
Koji Gokaya (JPN) 2:09:21
Takuya Fukatsu (JPN) 2:09:31
Luke Puskedra (USA) 2:10:24
Elkanah Kibet (USA) 2:11:31
Kazuya Ishida (JPN) 2:11:57
Ryoichi Matsuo (JPN) 2:12:11
Tim Young (USA) 2:14:40
David Nilsson (SWE) 2:17:19
Jose Madera (USA) 2:17:25
Tony Migliozzi (USA) 2:17:44
Jonathan Mott (USA) 2:18:12
Diego Estrada (USA)
Stephen Sambu (KEN) debut
Tom Anderson (GBR) debut
Chris Burnett (USA) debut
Kiya Dandena (USA) debut
Andrew Sherman (GBR) debut
Daniel Wallis (NZL) debut
Florence Kiplagat (KEN) 2:19:44
Atsede Baysa (ETH) 2:22:03
Valentine Kipketer (KEN) 2:23:02
Gulume Chala (ETH) 2:23:12
Serena Burla (USA) 2:28:01
Freya Ross (GBR) 2:28:10
Jessica Draskau-Petersson (DEN) 2:30:07
Tera Moody (USA) 2:30:53
Agnieszka Mierzejewska (POL) 2:30:55
Sarah Crouch (USA) 2:32:44
Heather Lieberg (USA) 2:34:08
Sarah Cummings (USA) 2:34:47
Alia Gray (USA) 2:35:47
Laurie Knowles (USA) 2:36:29