Past champions will be lining up to reclaim their crowns in this year's Bank of America Chicago Marathon.
Organizers announced Thursday that several international running stars, including previous winners Abel Kirui and Dickson Chumba, are joining the elite field of runners at the starting line in this year's race.
Also among the elite runners announced Thursday were 2017 runner-up Brigid Kosgei and two-time podium finisher Birhane Dibaba.
The runners will face 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.
The lineup also includes reigning Boston Marathon champion Yuki Kawauchi and 2016 Olympian Suguru Osako, who are looking become the first Chicago champion from Japan since 1986.
“We have put together an exciting elite field, and it should be a fast race to the top of the podium,” Bank of America Chicago Marathon Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski said in a statement. “This year’s elite field is a collection of some of the best international and American athletes running on the global stage today. We are confident that they will continue the great tradition of memorable and record setting performances in Chicago.”
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The men's international field includes:
Dickson Chumba who set his personal best in Chicago in 2014 when he finished third on an historic day that witnessed three of the top five times ever run in Chicago. Chumba is the fifth fastest runner in Chicago’s history. He came back to win in 2015 and while he tried to defend his title in 2016, he came up three seconds short, finishing second to Abel Kirui.
Kirui literally danced across the finish line when he won his first AbbottWMM in Chicago in 2016, defeating a strong field in a tactical race that saw erratic pace swings. He returned in 2017 to defend his title, but he failed to match Galen Rupp’s kick at the end. Kirui also stands out as one of the most decorated athletes in the field – he took home a silver medal in the marathon at the 2012 London Olympics and he won both the 2009 and 2011 IAAF World Marathon Championships.
Mosinet Geremew and Birhanu Legese bring both youth and speed to a competitive international field. Geremew started 2018 with a bang, breaking the course record in Dubai and posting a fresh personal best. He is a four-time winner of the Yangzhou Jianzhen International Half Marathon. Chicago marks his second shot at competing in an AbbottWMM. Legese, the youngest athlete in this year’s elite field, opened the year by making his marathon debut in Dubai, finishing sixth.
Kenneth Kipkemoi, Paul Lonyangata, Geoffrey Kirui, Bedan Karoki, Stephen Sambu and Augustine Choge continue the marathon’s tradition of welcoming strong athletes from Kenya to the windy city.
As a four-time winner of the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K, holding three of the 14 fastest times in course history, Sambu returns to Chicago as a fan favorite. He made his marathon debut here in 2016 with a fifth place finish, and he returned in 2017 to accrue another fifth place. Sambu’s speed over shorter distances predicts a faster marathon PR. With the reintroduction of pacers into this year’s field, Sambu could finally land in the top three.
Ryo Kiname joins previously announced Kawauchi as strong contender from Japan. Kiname, racing in North America for the first time, enters Chicago with a fresh personal best and a seventh place finish from the 2018 Tokyo Marathon. He has one marathon career win to his name - the Sapporo Hokkaido Marathon in 2016.
The women's international field includes:
Brigid Kosgei ran in Chicago last fall, finishing second to Tirunesh Dibaba, arguably one of the greatest runners in history. En route to her second place finish in Chicago, she smashed her personal best. Nine weeks later, she won the Honolulu Marathon.
Roza Dereje impressed fans in Dubai to start her 2018 season, taking down the course record and setting a three-minute PR to become the eighth fastest woman in history. She followed Dubai with another personal best and a second place finish in April at the Istanbul Half Marathon. Prior to gaining global recognition this winter, she started making a name for herself after she won the Shanghai Marathon twice in 2016 and 2017.
Birhane Dibaba took home a pair of third place finishes in Chicago in 2014 and 2015, and she arrives this fall with something only 27 women have accomplished in history: a sub 2:20 PR. Dibaba joined this exclusive club after winning the Tokyo Marathon this winter. She primarily races the marathon distance, and she has finished in the top five of 13 of the 14 marathons she has run. Her compatriot, Shure Demise, is running her first Bank of America Chicago Marathon, but she has fared well on the global stage since she picked up back-to-back wins in Toronto in 2015 and 2016.
Yuka Ando made headlines in 2017 (just shy of her 23rd birthday) when she clocked the fastest ever debut marathon by a Japanese woman at the Nagoya Marathon. Her debut performance also made her the fourth fastest woman in Japan’s history, and it was the fastest time by a Japanese woman since 2005.
Madai Perez is back after a successful run in 2017. A two-time Olympian in the marathon, announced her comeback last fall with a fourth place finish in Chicago. She logged this time fourteen years after she made her marathon debut in Chicago, and 11 years after she ran her still-standing personal best in Chicago.
Alexi Pappas announced her debut on Instagram, writing “I've broken tape in Chicago * paced the 26.2 * I'm coming back this October * to chase what I dream to do: my MARATHON DEBUT!” Pappas, a 2016 Olympian, is familiar with the energy and enthusiasm of Chicago’s running community. She won the 2015 and 2016 Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K, but her first experience in Chicago was the 2014 Bank of America Chicago Marathon where she led a group of U.S. Olympic Trials hopefuls as a pacer.
Other notable athletes include Jessica Draskau Petersson, Vianey De la Rosa, Dayna Pidhoresky and Hiruni Wijayaratne.
The 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon steps off Oct. 7.