The Bank of America Chicago Marathon just got even more exciting.
That's because organizers announced reigning Boston Marathon champion Yuki Kawauchi and 2016 Olympian Suguru Osako will both look become the first Chicago champion from Japan since 1986.
“Yuki and Suguru are exciting additions to our elite field,” Executive Race Director of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon Carey Pinkowski said in a statement. “Yuki has taken an unconventional path to marathon stardom; there’s no other elite runner competing today like him. And Suguru is young in his marathon career with a real chance at breaking the Japanese national record in Chicago.”
Kawauchi is known to many as a "citizen runner," who fits his training and racing in around his full-time job as a government employee. He has raced more than 2- times in 2018 already, including running the Kuki Half Marathon dressed in a panda suit.
Osako is a 2016 Olympian and the Japanese record holder in the 3000m and 5000m. He competed in the 5000m and 10,000m in Rio after winning both events at Japan’s national championships, organizers said.
The two will face stiff competition in defending Chicago Marathon champion Galen Rupp and four-time Olympic gold medalist Mo Farah, who made history together in the 2012 London Olympics, finishing with gold and silver medals in the 10,000m.
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In 2017, Rupp became the first American man to win the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in more than a decade. The 2017 Chicago Marathon was only his fourth marathon ever.
"I’m so excited to be returning to Chicago to defend my title,” Rupp said in a statement. “I’d like to thank Carey and everyone at the Chicago Marathon for all the great work they do. I couldn’t be more thrilled to be heading back to the Windy City."
Farah made headlines in the 2016 Rio Olympics when he experienced a dramatic fall, but regained his footing and ultimately won his second straight gold.
The 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon steps off Oct. 7.