The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is bringing back elite pacesetters for this year's race, three years after the event eliminated them in 2015.
Marathon organizers revealed the news while also announcing the addition of Olympic champion Mo Farah to the elite lineup.
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“The championship style of racing that spectators enjoy will continue as the race enters its final miles,” Executive Race Director of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon Carey Pinkowski said in a statement. “The epic 2010 duel between the late Wanjiru and Tsegaye Kebede – arguably one of the greatest finishes in marathon history –underscores the importance of the tactics that still exist and flourish in paced races.”
The marathon made waves in the running world when it eliminated the so-called "rabbits" after 26 years. The pacers are considered masters of consistent running times and help elite runners avoid making mistakes - like starting too fast.
At the time, organizers said the move would "produce more Olympics-like race conditions and a more strategic, tactical competition for runners." Boston and New York also eliminated rabbits.
Pinkowski and event organizers said they decided to transition back to pacers "to leverage the speed of the course, to work towards setting up ideal conditions for the top tier elite athletes confirmed so far, and to respond to feedback received from runners."
“We listened to the athletes and they want to come to Chicago because of our tradition of fast times and our legacy as a world record course,” Pinkowski said. “If athletes want to run in races without pacers, there are several opportunities for them to do so.”
Among the elite athletes announced for the 2018 race so far are defending champion Galen Rupp, Farah, who Rupp's former training partner, and American record-setter Jordan Hasay.