Kenya's Kirui, Kiplagat out for another shot at the titles at Chicago Marathon this evening

Commonwealth Winner of 10, 000M race Florence Kiplagat wave to her fans after winning Women Category of the 1st Edition of County Pension Fund, CPF, Nairobi Diamond 10KM Run after clocking 31:42.0 at Uhuru Park on Sunday, August 17th, 2014. Photo/Jonah Onyango. Abel Kirui, of Kenya, waves after winning the Chicago Marathon, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Athletics:  America’s hopes in the Windy City rest with Galen Rupp, the marathon bronze medalist in Rio Olympics last year

Defending champions Abel Kirui and Florence Kiplagat will be hoping for a sweet sense of deja vu at the 40th anniversary of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon tomorrow evening.

To earn back-to-back titles, however, the 2016 champions must be strong enough with world record holder Dennis Kimetto headlining the men’s field and Tirunesh Dibaba, one of only three women to have broken 2:18, the star attraction on the women’s side.

Incidentally, Kirui and Kiplagat are managed by Jos Hermens of Global Sports Communications based in Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

The IAAF Gold Label Race, which is a flat course with 31 turns, will mark the fourth stop on Series XI of the Abbott World Marathon Majors, which began in London in April.

Back in 2013, Kimetto announced himself as a marathoner of otherworldly ability in Chicago, blitzing the course record to win in 2:03:45 and in 2014 he went where no man has gone before – below 2:03 – when setting the current world record at 2:02:57.

Despite that run, many of Kimetto’s rivals will not be intimidated when they take to the start line alongside him this evening. Since 2014, he has contested four marathons, failing to finish in two, with his best result a 2:05:50 finishing third in London in 2015. Last year, he could only finish 11th in London in 2:11:44, while he was forced to withdraw from the Boston Marathon earlier this year after picking injury. As a result, the 33-year-old remains an unknown quantity this tomorrow.

A stronger contender could be Stanley Biwott, who took victory at the New York City Marathon in 2015 before going on to finish second in London last year in 2:03:51, a run which makes him the second fastest in the American city race.

Next in line is Feyisa Lilesa of Ethiopia, the Olympic silver medalist in the marathon who has a best of 2:04:52. Though his sole marathon outing this year was poor – Lilesa finished 12th in London in 2:14:12 – he has shown strong form on the build-up to Chicago, finishing third in the Great North Run half marathon in 1:01:32.

America’s hopes rests with Galen Rupp, the marathon bronze medalist in Rio last year who has a best of just 2:09:58, a time which doesn’t do justice to his true ability. Rupp, the Olympic silver medalist over 10,000m in 2012, transitioned seamlessly to the marathon last year, cruising to victory in the US Olympic Trials in 2:11:13.

Earlier this year, he came close to winning in Boston, finishing 21 seconds behind Kenya’s Geoffrey Kirui, who went on to take the world title in London in August. Rupp has shown before that he is not unduly bothered by warm temperatures, and with sunny conditions forecast for today in Chicago, he will warrant major respect from Kenyans.

Others to consider include Ethiopia’s Sisay Lemma, who has run 2:05:16, and Kenyans Ezekiel Chebii and Bernard Kipyego, who have both run 2:06. Chebii took victory at the Lake Biwa Marathon earlier this year, running 2:09:06 in windy conditions, while Kipyego is a two-time winner of the Amsterdam Marathon, his PB of 2:06:19 coming there on his last victory in 2015.

 

 

Elsewhere

Athletics. Family Bank 21km race on today

Defending champion Jorum Lumbasi is back for another shot at the title when the 11th Family Bank half marathon gets underway this morning.

The Keringet-based runner was the surprise winner last year as he clocked 63:16 as an underdog. Lumbasi, the 2017 Iten Safaricom 10km winner, is keen to strike a brace and enter the elite club of road racers. "I will defend my title."

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