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Defending Champs, Paralympians Lead Professional Wheelchair Field for 40th Anniversary Bank of America Chicago Marathon

NOTE: NBC 5 will offer complete live coverage of the 2017 race beginning at 7 a.m. CT online and on TV. The race can be streamed live from around world on the NBC Chicago app, which will also offer a live stream of the finish line from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Click here for more. 

Local favorite and seven-time Chicago Marathon champion Tatyana McFadden, and 2016 men's wheelchair race winner Marcel Hug, aka the "silver bullet," will once again compete for the top spots on the podium during the 40th annual Bank of America Chicago Marathon, organizers announced Thursday.

The two are part of what race organizers say is one of the "most internationally diverse and talented" professional wheelchair fields in Chicago Marathon history. 

Twenty-four Paralympians from 12 countries will come to the Windy City on Oct. 8 to vie for the crown. 

“Tatyana became the most decorated champion in Chicago Marathon history last fall. When she comes to Chicago to race, people understand that they are watching one of the greatest champions in sport perform,” Bank of America Chicago Marathon Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski said in a statement. “And Marcel won an unprecedented six consecutive major marathons last year. We are excited to have him competing again in Chicago for the third time. The entire field is truly outstanding, and we expect to see photo finishes on both sides.”

Hug narrowly beat out last year's defending champion Kurt Fearnley, crossing the finish line with a lead of less than a second in a stunning photo finish he said was his closest ever. 

He will once again take on Fearnley, Chicago's most decorated male champion, along with four-time Chicago Marathon champion Josh George and 2013 victor Ernst Van Dyk. 

Rounding out the list of top male competitors is 2017 Tokyo Marathon winner Sho Watanabe, Japanese record-holder Kota Hokinoue, 2016 Chicago Marathon fourth-place finisher Gyu Dae Kim, Spanish record-holder Rafael Botello Jimenez, 2005 Chicago Marathon champion Krige Schabort, and two-time Ironman World Champion Thomas Früwirth.

McFadden is the Chicago Marathon course record-holder, and made history in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 as the only athlete to win four Abbott World Marathon Majors races in one year: London, Boston, Chicago and New York City. 

But McFadden's 2017 season got off to a rocky start after she suffered from blood clots before the Boston Marathon and competed just a few weeks after having surgery. Though she notched a new personal best, she finished in fourth place after being undefeated in Boston since 2013. 

She'll face stiff competition against Manuela Schar, who has finished just two seconds behind McFadden in 2013 and has been the runner-up each year since. She'll also compete against three-time Chicago Marathon champion Amanda McGrory, along with University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign alum Susannah Scaroni. 

Madison de Rozario, Jenna Fesemyer, Katrina Gerhard, Sandra Graf, Sammi Kinghorn, Chelsea McClammer and Arielle Rausin will also take a run at a podium finish.

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