World's Fastest 8K Runner to Make Debut at Bank of America Chicago Marathon

Stephen Sambu is the world's fastest 8K road runner and the back-to-back champion of the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle

Each year, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon welcomes thousands of runners from all 50 states and more than 100 countries. This fall, the race will welcome one of the fastest men in the world to Chicago, as he makes his highly-anticipated marathon debut. 

Stephen Sambu is the world's fastest 8K road runner and the back-to-back champion of the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle. On October 9, he will be running his first ever marathon in Chicago, the marathon announced Monday. 

“The Bank of America Chicago Marathon has a long tradition of featuring the world’s best athletes making their marathon debuts right here,” said Executive Director Carey Pinkowski. “To have Stephen Sambu, a person with deep integrity on top of being a talented athlete, add his name to that legacy is truly exciting."

Sambu, a native of Kenya living and training in Arizona, posted a time of 22:01 in the 8K en route to a 10K victory at the Boston Athletic Association 10K in 2014, entering the record books. 

In 2015, he ran his first race in Chicago: the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle. He ran the fastest time in more than a decade and the 12th-fastest in the race's history. In 2016, won the New York City Half Marathon, then returned to Chicago to run the Shamrock Shuffle once more. This time, he finished in 22:46, beating his nearest challenger by more than a minute and earning the fourth-fastest time in the event’s history.

“I’m excited to make my first marathon appearance in Chicago because of the strong history of runners making their debut here,” says Sambu. “I’m training very hard and can’t wait to race in front of the fans. I love the flat streets of the city, and I look forward to coming back.”

Some of racing’s biggest legends made their running debuts in Chicago, like Steve Jones who set a world record in his 1984 marathon debut, finishing in 2:08:05. Former world record-holder Khalid Khannouchi toed the line for the first time in 1997, running 2:07:10 to set a course, debut and North American record.

The following year, Ondoro Orso ran the marathon in 2:06:54 to set a new course, debut, North American and Kenyan national record. In 2005, Evans Rutto set a new debut record of 2:05:50, and Ethiopian Ejegayehu Dibaba ran the second-fastest debut for women in 2011 at 2:22:09.

Sambu spent time in Illinois at Rend Lake Junior College, where he captured 10 individual national championships. He currently holds personal records of 13:13 in the 5,000m, 26:54 in the 10,000m, and 1:00:41 in the half marathon. His 10K best on the road, 27:25, is the 18th fastest time in history.

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