Bank of America Chicago Marathon Announces 2016 Elite Runners

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon has traditionally brought some of the world’s best marathoners to the streets of Chicago, and this year will be no different.

Marathon officials have announced that current marathon world record holder and 2013 Chicago champion Dennis Kimetto of Kenya will join 2015 Chicago Marathon champion and fellow Kenyan Florence Kiplagat as they race for the crown at the 39th annual event in October.

The event will feature five past champions, the most returning champions to toe the line in the same race in event history, according to organizers. Joining Kimetto in the men’s elite field are 2015 marathon champion Dickson Chumba, 2012 winner Tsegaye Kebede, 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Micah Kogo and debut marathoner and 8K world record holder Stephen Sambu. Racing Kiplagat in the women’s elite field are Boston Marathon champion Atsede Baysa and Chicago newcomers Valentine Kipketer and Gulume Chala.

“Dickson, Tsegaye and Atsede have run their fastest career marathons in Chicago, and both Tsegaye and Dennis have experienced the thrill of breaking our course record,” Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski said in a statement. “To have so many past champions in one competition is thrilling. And there is depth on the American side as well; without pacesetters, we could see a new champion emerge from this talented field.” 

The Chicago Marathon steps off Oct. 9 and takes runners through 29 neighborhoods in the city. Last year, an estimated 1.7 million spectators lined the streets to cheer on more than 37,400 runners. 

Men’s Elite Field

Kimetto became the first runner in history to cover each 5K segment under in 14:50 and made history at the 2014 Berlin Marathon when he became the first person to run in under two hours and three minutes, setting a world record.

He will be challenged by Chumba, who will look to defend his 2015 title. Chumba first gained global recognition in 2014 with a win and course record at the Tokyo Marathon. He finished third place at the 2014 Chicago Marathon in his current personal record of 2:04:32. He went on to win in 2015.

Kebede, a 2008 Olympic Marathon bronze medalist, is one of the most accomplished marathon runners of the last decade, marathon organizers said. He has finished in the top 10 of 15 Abbott World Marathon Majors races since 2009, including three victories, three runner-up finishes and five third place finishes. His last run in Chicago four years ago ended with him setting a personal and course record, though that course record was later broken by Kimetto.

Kogo has not yet won a marathon, but he did win an Olympic bronze medal in the 10,000m. He also has a track personal record of 26:35.63, making him the sixth fastest man in history at the distance. He's hoping to claim his first marathon victory in Chicago. 

Sambu has won both the 2015 and 2016 Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle in Chicago, but he will be making his marathon debut in the Windy City this year. He brings with him world record 8k and 10,000m speed.

Kenya’s Gideon Kipketer and American Luke Puskedra, of Oregon, plan to also seek their place at the podium in Chicago. Kipketer has won the 2016 Mumbai Marathon and Puskedra set a personal record in last year’s Chicago Marathon, becoming the sixth American in the last two decades to finish in the top five in the event.

Japanese contenders include Koji Gokaya, Takuya Fukatsu, Kazuya Ishida and Ryoichi Matsuo. The four will be looking to run their way to a top finish in this year’s race.

Other Americans in the elite field include Nick Arciniaga and Diego Estrada of Arizona and Tim Young of Virginia.

Women’s Elite Field

Kiplagat, the current world record holder in the half marathon, will also return to Chicago to defend her 2015 title. She is the current world record holder in the half marathon and 2011 and 2013 Berlin Marathon champion.

Baysa, who will line up in Chicago for the fourth time, has more Chicago victories on her resume than her Kenyan rival with victories in the 2010 and 2012 marathons. The reigning champion at the Boston Marathon and also claimed the crown twice at the Paris Marathon and in Istanbul, Xiamen and Saitama.

Valentine Kipketer, who will be making her Chicago Marathon debut, was among the top contenders in the 2016 Boston Marathon but finished fifth in the race after Baysa hard charged the finish line in one of the biggest come-from-behind victories in history, the marathon said. She started her career in 20088 but took a maternity break before returning to the roads in 2015. She’s claimed victories previously in Amsterdam and Mumbai.

Chala will be making her first appearance in an AWMM event after competing in the 42K distance for four years. She has run 12 marathons within those four years and will look to be a top contender as she competed among the best athletes on the global stage.

American Serena Burla, of Virginia, is a two-time U.S. Olympic Marathon trials qualifier and was the 2014 U.S. Half Marathon champion. She will be joined by six-time Chicago Marathon veteran and Chicago native Tera Moody, who made a comeback at the 2015 race after a struggle with injuries. Sarah Crouch, of North Carolina will also return for her third event after a huge breakthrough in Chicago in 2014, taking 12 minutes from her personal record to finish in the top 10.

Two-time Danish Olympian Jessica Draskau Petersson, 2016 Polish champ Angieszka Mierzejewska and 2012 British Olympian Freya Ross will also join the women’s field. Mierzejewska, like Chala, will be racing in her first Abbott World Marathon Majors event and has finished in the top three of all six marathons she has run so far. Ross, who is coached by 1984 and1985 Chicago Marathon champion Steve Jones, will make her return after a broken hip sidelined her plans in 2014 and 2015.

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