Rita Jeptoo will defend her title at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Sunday October 12, organisers for the IAAF Gold Label Road Race have announced.
Kenya's Jeptoo ran her first career sub-2:20 marathon in Chicago last year with a time of 2:19:57, the fastest women's marathon time of 2013.
Continuing strong, she opened her 2014 marathon campaign in Boston back in April with 2:18:57, smashing the course record by almost two minutes and setting a personal best. Jeptoo arrives in Chicago with the potential to rewrite the record books by becoming just the third woman in history to run three sub-2:20 marathons.
The running world has not witnessed this feat in more than a decade since former Chicago champions and world record-holders Catherine Ndereba, of Kenya, and Great Britain's Paula Radcliffe traded course and world records in London and Chicago.
Jeptoo's Chicago history includes her 2012 stride-for-stride sprint finish down Columbus Avenue, only succumbing to Ethiopia's Atsede Baysa by a step, and running 2:22:04 to Baysa's 2:22:03.
The Kenyan redeemed herself by winning the 2013 Boston Marathon the following April and returned to Chicago last autumn with renewed strength and determination.
With her electrifying speed, she emerged as the first Kenyan to take home a Chicago victory since Ndereba in 2001.
Jeptoo currently stands atop the World Marathon Majors leader board, coming off an impressive performance in Boston where she came home in front of one of the best women's fields ever assembled in that race's illustrious history.
Meanwhile, Barcelona 2012 women's 3000m steeplechase champion, Daisy Jepkemei will defend her title in the US city of Eugene next month as part of the largest ever Kenyan contingent going to the IAAF World Junior Championships, following conclusion of the two-day Trials in Nairobi on Wednesday.
Last year's IAAF World Youth Championships gold medallists, Alfred Kipketer, Lilian Kasait Rengeruk and Rosefline Chepngetich will also be out to scale the next ladder in global competition and have been named in the preliminary squad of 27 by Athletics Kenya.
Having won a gold medal as part of the Kenyan 4x800m quartet at the IAAF World Relays last month, rising two-lap sensation Kipketer had a gun-to-tape victory in the men's 800m in 1:45.67 but had to work hard to hold off the fast-finishing Joshua Masikonde, who finished second in 1:45.85.
"I'm well prepared and, from beginning, I was ready to run from the front all the way. Winning my first senior gold medal in Bahamas was a good way to start and my aim is to add the World Junior title," said the Form Four student at St. Francis High School in Kamuron, the same school attended by world record holder David Rudisha.
Maximilla Emali won the women's 800m in 2:04.20 and held off Margaret Nyairera, second in 2:04.24m in another tight finish.
Having beaten Daisy Jepkemei to the World Youth Championships title in the 2000m steeplechase last summer in Donetsk, Ukraine, Rosefline Chepngetich once again forced her rival to accept second place in the women's 3000m steeplechase showdown, the clocks showing 9:43.25 and 9:53.02 respectively.
"I was not expecting the win here today since I've not trained much due to school. I'm going to prepare well to do my best and I'm so excited I'm going to Eugene where I hope to return with gold," commented the Form One student at the aptly named Winners' High School, the same institution that two-time 2012 World Junior Championships 1500m gold medallist Faith Kipyegon attended.
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