While the women’s race on Sunday’s Chicago Marathon is set to be a two-horse race between Kenya’s Ruth Chepngetich and Ethiopia’s Ruti Aga, the men’s race on the other hand appears to be an open one.
The defending champion, Seifu Tura is back to defend his title against a strong field of over 20 sub-2:10 runners in the elite field. Tura looks ready to impress on the streets of the “windy city” this Sunday, having run a 58:36 at the RAK half marathon in February and a 2:05:10 to finish second at the Paris Marathon in April.
However, Tura’s personal best time of 2:04:29 puts him as the fourth fastest on the start list. Ethiopia’s Herpasa Negasa is the fastest and the only sub-2:04 runner.
Negasa surprised everyone with a 2:03:40 performance at the 2021 Dubai Marathon to finish second in what was a massive improvement on his previous PB of 2:09:14. This year, he appears to be in good form again, having run 2:04:49 to finish second at the Seoul Marathon in April.
Bernard Koech is the second fastest on the starting list with a personal best time of 2:04:09 which he set to finish second at the Amsterdam Marathon last October.
Koech is yet to win a major marathon in his long and impressive marathon career, and Chicago presents him with a good opportunity to finally break the jinx. He knows the Chicago marathon course very well having finished 5th in 2014.
Ethiopia’s Dawit Wolde, who represented Ethiopia in the 1500m event at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games, is one of the runners who have successfully transitioned well into the marathon event. He ran his PB of 2:04:27 to finish third in the Rotterdam Marathon last year and, in his relatively short career in the marathon, has managed to win the Prague Marathon in 2019, besides second-place finishes in Enschede, Hong Kong, and Frankfurt marathons
Uganda’s Stephen Kissa in his marathon debut this year in Hamburg set a new national record of 2:04:48. His legs are still fresh from the track having represented his country in the men’s 10,000m event at the Olympics in 2021 and at the World Athletics championships this year in Eugene, Oregon.
Kenya’s Elisha Rotich who had won the 2021 Paris Marathon in a new personal best time of 2:04:21 that made him one of the experienced marathon runners to watch out for on Sunday, unfortunately, is part of the latest withdrawals from the race. The 32-year-old Kenyan has won a number of other big marathons including the Eindhoven, the Cannes, and the Chuncheon marathons.
But in his absence, Kenyans still have an extra arsenal by the name of Benson Kipruto. Kipruto has tested a World Marathon Majors victory at the Boston Marathon last year where he won the race in 2:09:51. This is a win that will arguably give him much confidence ahead of Sunday’s race.
“It was very special because it was my first World Marathon Majors win, and I think when you win a World Marathon Major, you are among the best athletes in the world,” Kipruto said about the Boston Marathon win in October last year.
Kipruto ran his personal best time of 2:05:19 at the 2019 Toronto Waterfront Marathon in Canada.