For the first time in 26 years, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon will not feature elite pacesetters.
Pacers, commonly referred to as rabbits, are masters of consistent running times and help racers avoid making mistakes – like starting races too fast – and are employed frequently to help elite runners set records.
"This change has the potential to produce more Olympic-like race conditions and a more strategic, tactical competition for runners," marathon organizers said in a statement. "But with time bonuses still intact, a record-chasing speed show is not an artifact of the past."
The Chicago Marathon joins the Boston and New York marathons in eliminating rabbits, aiming to help Chicago's race produce Olympic-like marathon race conditions where pacers aren’t permitted.
Chicago's marathon is a fast course and without pacers runners have set records.
Joan Benoit Samuelson, one of the most famous of these no-rabbit, record-setting runners, returns to Chicago on Oct. 11, 30 years after her impressive 1985 Chicago Marathon win.
Marathon officials confirm that time bonuses remain in this year’s marathon as financial incentives for the racers to run quickly.
After a quarter decade racing with rabbits, the Chicago Marathon is setting the scene for a psychologically spurred speed showdown on Oct. 11.