Chicago Marathon 2019: Runners Step Off for Annual Race

This year's Chicago Marathon brings with it an exciting twist

NOTE: NBC Chicago will offer a live stream with complete race coverage beginning at 7 a.m. Oct. 13 right here.

Not able to make it to Chicago to watch your favorite runners cross the finish line in person? 
We've got you covered.

On Sunday, thousands of runners from around the world will descend on Chicago for the 2019 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. But this year's race comes with an exciting twist, as elite athletes eye the next Olympics.  

Some runners will aim to break course records while others hope for personal bests as they complete a massive feat - running 26.2 miles in under seven hours. 

Chicago's course is chosen by many elite runners due in part to its largely flat route, which paves the way for record-breaking potential. And this year is no different. 

A growing list of strong elites will look to make their mark ahead of February's Olympic Trials and Tokyo 2020. Para-athletes will also be using the marathon to compete for a slot on Team USA at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. 

The 2019 elite field includes several men who have run a marathon in less than two hours and seven minutes and multiple women who have run in under two hours and 25 minutes. 

“This year is a critical year for athletes trying to punch their tickets to Tokyo so we anticipate inspiring races all around," Bank of America Chicago Marathon Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski said in a statement.

Past champion Brigid Kosgei, the seventh-fastest woman in marathon running history, will hit the course amid what has so far been an unbeatable year. She'll face American marathon debut record holder Jordan Hasay and Paris champion Betsy Saina in what will undoubtedly be an exciting race that could see a record-setting run. 

Outside of elites, runners racing for charity and personal accomplishments will hit the streets in an inspirational parade that happens just once a year. 

The Chicago Marathon steps off at 7 a.m. in Grant Park, taking runners on a scenic journey through city neighborhoods before returning to Grant Park for the finish line. 

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