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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Chicago Marathon - Preview of Sunday's Race

In case you did not notice on Sunday, the fall marathon season is upon us, and this Sunday sees the 30th annual Chicago Marathon kicking off in the heart of downtown Chicago at 0800. The forecast is for morning temps around 15-16 C and peaking above 25 C! Perhaps not quite cool enough for record-breaking performances, but definitely conducive to a fast winning time.

The women's field does not have much depth and this year's race cannot claim any real world beaters among its women racers. Four of the ten elite women will be running their first marathon on Sunday, and among the veterans Australian Benita Johnson has the best time at 2:22:36. Notably absent is Constantina Tomescu-Dita, a previous winner and normal competitor. Also absent is last year's winner Berhane Adere from Ethiopia. So on paper Johnson has the best time by two minutes, but as we all know the marathon distance can quickly evaporate these kind of differences on the day, and so no one runner among the women looks to dominate the field outright.

On the men's side it will be a battle among Kenyans. Notably absent is defending champion Robert Cheruiyot, but we can likely expect a tactical race to unfold as there is plenty of depth, although no WR setters, as this men's field oozes experience and success:

  1. Christopher Cheboiboch - KEN - Debut

  2. Jouad Gharib - MAR - 2:07:02:
    2001, 2003 World Champion

  3. Patrick Ivuti - KEN - 2:07:46

  4. James Koskei - KEN - 2:14:02:
    4th at 2007 Boston Marathon

  5. Bong-Ju Lee - KOR - 2:07:20:
    '96 Olympic silver, 2001 Boston winner

  6. Felix Limo - KEN - 2:06:14:
    Winner at Berlin '04, Rotterdam '04, Chicago '05, London '06

  7. Benjamin Maiyo - KEN - 2:07:09:
    2nd Chicago '05, 2nd Boston '06

  8. Jimmy Muindi - KEN - 2:07:50:
    Five time Honolulu winner ('99, '00, '03-'05)

  9. Charles Munyeki - KEN - Debut

  10. Daniel Njenga - KEN - 2:06:16:
    2nd at Chicago '02, '04, '06 and 3rd in '03 and '05; Winner at Tokyo '04, '07

  11. Evans Rutto - KEN - 2:05:50:
    2003, 2004 Chicago Winner

  12. Daniel Yego - KEN - 2:08:16:
    4th in 2006 NYC Marathon

  13. John Yuda - TAN - 2:10:13
Admittedly, this is a fast bunch of runners by anyone's standards, but not a group known for world record-setting performances and not known for attempting to break records. Rather, it represents a group of runners who knows how to win, and that means running smart and tactical races against some of the best in the world.

With Chicago being a flat, record-setting course (Khalid Khannouchi, 2:05:42 in 1999) and the weather forecast for very cool morning temps, there will be minimal effects of the terrain and environmental conditions on the performances.

On the line for the winners? With a total prize purse of $579,000, there is no shortage of cash on hand at Chicago this year, and each winner takes home $125,000. If he/she breaks the WR, they bag an additional $200,000. Given the fields this is an unlikely scenario, however the winning men's time could be sub-2:09, which carries with it a $10,000 bonus.

So check your local listings and keep an eye on our blog for more analysis leading up to the race, and for the full report immediately following the race!