Past champions line up in bid to reclaim Chicago Marathon title

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NAIROBI, Oct. 6 (Xinhua) — Defending champions Galen Rupp (USA) will line up alongside former winners Abel Kirui and Dickson Chumba on Sunday in quest for the Chicago Marathon title.

The women’s field on the other hand contains three women who have run faster than two hours and 20 minutes, including a two-time Chicago winner Florence Kiplagat, who is returning from one year sabbatical because of muscle strain injury picked in last year’s race.

However, it will be Ethiopia’s Mosinet Geremew and Birhanu Legese in the men’s race, who set respective best times of 2:04:00 and 2:04:15 from this year’s Dubai Marathon, who will start as the fastest men in the field.

Now retired from the track and fully concentrating on the roads, six-time world champion and four-time Olympic gold medalist Mo Farah will also contend for top honors, so too will world marathon champion Geoffrey Kirui.

It would be unwise to rule out Japan’s Yuki Kawauchi, who won this year’s Boston Marathon in atrocious rainy conditions.

“It was a breakthrough for me to win in 2016. I wanted to confirm it last year with another win, but I was fighting a tendon injury and lost to Rupp. I need to win and I need to run my personal best in life. I wish the weather will be cool and the pacemakers fast. We will know who is winning after the 35km mark,” said Abel Kirui on Saturday.

Rupp ended a 15-year drought of U.S. men’s victories in Chicago when winning in 2:09:20 last year.

He struggled in the harsh conditions in Boston earlier this year and withdrew from the race but returned to action three weeks later to win the Prague Marathon in a lifetime best of 2:06:07.

Chumba has occupied every step of the podium in Chicago. He placed third in 2014 with a best time of 2:04:32, won in 2015 and finished second in 2016.

Earlier this year he won the Tokyo Marathon for the second time in his career, clocking 2:05:30, his second-fastest marathon performance to date.

World champion Kirui enjoyed a stellar 2017, winning the world title in London four months after his Boston Marathon victory.

He has not raced since rallying to a second-place finish in Boston earlier this year, but – rain aside – can expect a completely different racing experience on Sunday.

In women’s race Brigid Kosgei finished second in Chicago last year, setting a big best time of 2:20:22.

Nine weeks later, she won the Honolulu Marathon in 2:22:15, taking more than five minutes off the course record, and she finished second in London earlier this year improving her time to 2:20:13.

“I want faster time. But I know there are stronger women in the field, I will run my own race though,” said Kosgei.

Her most recent performance was a 1:07:52 effort at the Great North Run, finishing a close second to London Marathon champion Vivian Cheruiyot.

Florence Kiplagat hasn’t competed in any race since she failed to finish in Chicago last year. She won the two previous editions, though, clocking 2:21:32 in 2016 and 2:23:33 in 2015.

It is difficult to predict what form she will arrive in, but if an athlete of her caliber – she has won world titles at cross country and the half marathon and has set world records in the latter – is anywhere near her best, she will still pose a threat.

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