Ruth Chepngetich returns to defend her Marathon title in Chicago this weekend

October 06, 2022

Chicago Marathon is the place where Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei set the women’s marathon world record of 2:14:04 in October 2019.

This weekend, another top Kenyan runner will be hoping to take advantage of the flat, fast and world-record-setting course to see how fast she can go. Before the late addition of Ethiopia’s Ruti Aga, who has a personal best time of 2:18:34, Ruth Chepngetich was the only sub 2:20 runner on the start list, but this would not have mattered much to her since she would have had the company of the male runners in the mixed race, to push her up to the finish line. Now, she has Aga to provide her with even more pressure for her to run a faster time. 

The 28-year-old world champion will be worth watching out for after having won the Nagoya women’s marathon this year with an impressive time of 2:17:18. She also set a Kenyan national record for the half marathon distance at the NKolay Istanbul Half Marathon in Turkey last year in April after running 1:04:02  to win the women’s race.

While the Ethiopian women have dominated the first two of the World Marathon Majors this season with impressive times - 2:15:37 for Tigist Assefa in Berlin and 2:17:26 for Yalemzerf Yehualaw in London- It should be Kenya’s turn to do the same in Chicago courtesy of Chepngetich, who is as well the defending champion.

It is hard to gauge how Chepngetich would have fared against Assefa in Berlin since they haven’t raced against each other before. But she has raced against Yehualaw in two half marathon races; the Istanbul half marathon last year in April, where Chepngetich had won the race ahead of Yehualaw, and at the 2020 New Dheli half where the opposite had happened. So this could help tell where Chepngetich’s predicted time could fall on Sunday 9th. Could it result in a new personal best time for her?

Although it has been a while since Aga was in her best form, she could pull a surprise, having been a winner of the Tokyo Marathon in 2019 and having finished 2nd two times at the Berlin Marathon and 3rd at the 2019 New York City Marathon.

Besides Chepngetich, the 3rd and 4th fastest runners on the women’s elite start list are also Kenyans.

26-year-old Celestine Chepchirchir has a personal best time of 2:20:10, which she set to finish 4th at the Seoul Marathon in April. However, having entered the marathon stage with a 2:31:41 win at the Nairobi Marathon in 2017, Chepchirchir has seen a gradual improvement in her marathon times and will be hoping to cut down the 10 seconds and dip below the 2:20:00 mark on Sunday.

The other Kenyan, 30-year-old Vivian Kiplagat, has a personal best time of 2:20:18, which she set this year in the Milano Marathon, a race she has won three times. However, given that she has also won the Honolulu, the Buenos Aires, and the Abu Dhabi marathons, she could be slower in her best time but with more winning experiences than Chepchirchir.

On paper, one second behind the Kenyans is Ethiopia’s Haven Hailu Desse, with a personal best time of 2:20:19, a time she ran to finish 3rd at the Amsterdam Marathon in October last year. The 24-year-old started the year well by winning the Rotterdam Marathon in April.

USA’s Emily Sisson will be the home favorite in the race. She finished 6th at the 2019 London Marathon, where she registered her personal best time of 2:23:08. Many consider London to be generally more competitive than Chicago in the number and the level of the elite fields. So with that in Sisson’s mind and the fans cheering for her, it should result in a better position and time for her on the streets of Chicago.

Related News