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Kenyans favored as Chicago Marathon returns Sunday

(AFP)

Kenyans Reuben Kipyego and Ruth Chepngetich will carry favored roles into Sunday’s 43rd Chicago Marathon, which returns to the Windy City streets after Covid-19 scrapped last year’s race.

Sara Hall, chasing a 15-year-old American women’s marathon record, and Galen Rupp, the 2017 Chicago champion, lead US hopes over the 26.2-mile layout, with warm conditions expected.

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Kipyego has the top men’s entry time of 2hrs 3mins 55secs from a runner-up finish at Milan in May. He went 2:04:12 at Valencia last December and won in 2019 at Abu Dhabi in 2:04:40.

Four other entrants have cracked 2:05:00, including Kenya’s Dickson Chumba, the 2015 Chicago winner and Tokyo Marathon champion in 2014 and 2018; Ethiopian Seifu Tura, the 2018 Shanghai and Milan winner who ran 2:04:29 to finish fourth at Milan in May; Ethiopia’s Chalu Deso, who went 2:04:53 to finish sixth at Valencia last December; and Japan’s Kengo Suzuki, who went 2:04:56 to win at Otsu, Japan, in February.

Rupp, third in the 2016 Rio Olympic marathon, was eighth at the Tokyo Olympics in 2:11:41. 

He snapped a 15-year US men’s win drought at Chicago in 2017 but finished fifth in 2018 and dropped out in 2019 with a calf strain.

“The 2021 Chicago Marathon is going to be an awesome celebration,” said Rupp.

Chepngetich, the 2019 world champion, makes her US debut in Chicago. 

She set a world half-marathon record of 1:04:02 in April at Istanbul and her marathon best of 2:17:08 to win at Dubai in 2019 makes her the fourth-fastest woman in history at the distance.

“I’ve never raced in the States and making my debut in such a great race like the Chicago Marathon is more than a dream to me,” she said. 

“I’ll give all myself trying to run as fast as possible.”

Hall will be chasing the American record of 2:19:36 set by Deena Kastor in winning the 2006 London Marathon. 

She will also be trying to become the first US woman to win at Chicago since Kastor in 2005.

“When I thought about where I wanted to chase the American record, I thought it would be more exciting to do it at home,” Hall said. “And Chicago is such an epic race.”

Last year, Hall ran 2:22:01 to finish second in London behind Brigid Kosgei, the Kenyan who won the 2018 and 2019 Chicago titles.

She also went 2:20:32 last year in Arizona at an event designed to challenge records, putting Hall second on seeding times ahead of Kenya’s Vivian Kiplagat, at 2:21:11 from her 2019 Abu Dhabi triumph, and Ethiopia’s Meseret Belete, on 2:24:54 from last year’s fourth place finish at Houston.

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