The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is setting the stage for another elite showdown as some of the world's biggest running stars will return to Chicago for the 2019 race, organizers announced Thursday.
Defending champion and Olympic gold medalist Sir Mo Farah will once again face off against his former training partner and past victor Galen Rupp, who made history in 2017 when he became the first American to win the Chicago Marathon in more than a decade.
American marathon debut record-holder Jordan Hasay will also headline the women's race and the elite wheelchair race will feature defending champions Daniel Romanchuk and Manuela Schar, who are looking to capture back-to-back victories.
"We are thrilled to have so many champions in this year’s field. Every elite field we put together tells a broader story about the sport – about the pressure to defend a title, the day in and day out commitment and grit of the world’s best athletes, and the pain and beauty of a comeback," Bank of America Chicago Marathon Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski said in a statement. "Mo is an Olympic champion and he put on quite a show here last year, and we are excited that Galen has chosen the Bank of America Chicago Marathon as his comeback race. The American record is in play with Jordan, and Daniel and Manuela are unstoppable. I’m confident we are going to see great races up front on October 13."
Farah finished the 2018 race with the eighth-fastest time in Bank of America Chicago Marathon history.
"Winning the Chicago Marathon last year was very special for me,” he said in a statement. "It was my first time to win a World Marathon Major and my time was a European and British record. I am looking forward to returning in 2019 to defend my title on the streets of Chicago. It is a fast course with good organization."
Rupp, an Olympic medalist and current holder of four American records, finished fifth in 2018, coming off the heels of his historic win in 2017. This year will mark a significant comeback for the runner after he underwent Achilles tendon surgery following last fall's race.
"I could not be more excited to return to a city and marathon that is so special to me," Rupp said in a statement. "After undergoing surgery following last year’s race, I have been pouring all of my energy into my recovery and returning strong in 2019. I look forward to being at my best again and giving it all I have in October."
Hasay, who in 2017 made history as a female American runner in Chicago, was poised to lead one of the strongest female American fields ever last year, but was sidelined by an injury just weeks before the race.
"I am honored to return to the streets of Chicago," Hasay said in a statement. "I love the fast course and exciting atmosphere, which I believe can lead to an attempt at the American record. I look forward to being at my best again and giving it all I have in October."
After his stunning 2018 Chicago finish, Romanchuk became the first American male and youngest athlete to win the wheelchair competition at the New York City Marathon.
"The Chicago Marathon is so special to me,” he said in a statement. “It was the first Marathon Major I ever did, so I use it to gauge my progress over the years. I was shocked to win it in 2018, and I'm so excited to be returning again this October."
Schar will enter this year's race as the reigning champion of the Berlin, New York, Tokyo, Boston and London marathons. She's the fastest female marathon racer of all time and holds the official world record. After spending five years on Chicago's podium in the runner-up and third-place slots she finally earned her first-place finish in 2018.
"My win last year was a very, very special moment," she said in a statement.
The 42nd annual Bank of America Chicago Marathon will set off Oct. 13 with more than 40,000 runners expected to cross the finish line.