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Men's Preview |
2009 Bank of America Chicago Marathon - Men's Preview
by Sharon Ekstrom
On Sunday, October 11, 2009, the Chicago Marathon will gather world-class talent to compete on the course that consistently delivers the fastest times in the USA. This fabled race, which has seen four world records set on its course, has witnessed legendary athletes compete for over three decades; competing for the fastest times in the world against London, Berlin and more recently Rotterdam and Dubai. The 2009 race stands to be historic, as race organizers have nabbed some of the fastest runners currently competing in the hope of setting new national, course or POSSIBLY a world record.
Tadese Tola running away from the field at the NYC Half Marathon
The men's elite roster will feature the Olympic Marathon gold medalist and 2009 London Marathon winner (and course record holder), Sammy Wanjiru (KEN, PR: 2:05:10); two-time New York City Marathon runner-up Abderrahim Goumri (MAR, PR: 2:05:30); 2009 Paris Marathon champion Vincent Kipruto (KEN, PR: 2:05:47), two-time winner of the New York City Half-Marathon Tadese Tola (ETH, debut). With 2008 defending champion and 2:06 marathoner Evans Cheruiyot withdrawn from the race, look to top performances by Wanjiru and perhaps newcomer Tola.
The Fastest Course in the USA
This notably fast course has produced two men's world records in the past - Steve Jones (1984: 2:08:05) and Khalid Khannouchi (1999: 2:05:42 CR) – and has seen a number of legendary marathoners and national stars run great times over the past thirty-two years - among them Moses Tanui, Khalid Khannouchi, Paul Tergat, Abelkader El Mouaziz, Steve Jones, Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot, Toshihiko Seko, Rob DeCastella, Marilson dos Santos, Meb Keflezighi, Alan Culpepper, Abdi Abdirahmin, Silvio Guerra, Jaouad Gharib...
While there are only 14 men in the world who have run 2:05 or faster, two men have done this at the Chicago Marathon - Khalid Khannouchi (1999-2:05:42, first), Evans Rutto (2003-2:05:50, first) and Khalid Khannouchi (2002-2:05:56, first). Perhaps this was impetus for Olympic gold medalist Wanjiru who threatened to break the world record this autumn of 2009. This is the same man who honored both promises of winning the 2009 London Marathon and 2008 Beijing Olympic Marathon. While Wanjiru initially planned to take on world marathon record holder Haile Gebrselassie (ETH, PR: 2:03:59) at the 2009 Berlin Marathon, he will not be disappointed in Chicago.
Race organizers have prepared for a world record with two key pacers among the four enlisted to guide the elites - Matthew Koech (KEN, 25K PR: 73:24) and Patrick Ivuti (KEN, PR: 2:07:46 Chicago, 5th place, 20K PR 74:04). Koech has never run a marathon, but his sub-60:00 half marathon time makes him one of the fastest half marathoners in the field next to Wanjiru. 2007 Chicago Marathon champion Ivuti has the 9th fastest 20K time in the world. (Wanjiru has the fastest in the world.) Both men can run 25K splits as fast as Gebrselassie during both his world record finishes in Berlin - 73:40 (2008) and 74:04 (2007) and are hited to get the frontrunners to the 25K before dropping out of the race(?).
Wanjiru takes on Chicago
photo: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images Sport
Alongside the numerous accolades Wanjiru has earned in the marathon distance since his victorious debut at twenty years old at the 2007 Fukuoka Marathon (2:06:39), this Kenyan has won 3 career marathons and finished second once. Having just begun a career as a marathoner, he set his sights on a new world record early on. Whether a brash show of confidence or not, Wanjiru was the first young twenty–something on the marathon scene to challenge top veteran marathoners. He will be joined by two other 2:05 marathoners – inveterate challenger Goumri and fastest 2009 finisher in the field Kipruto.
Goumri has finished in the top three in 4 of 8 marathons without a victory. He debuted at the 2007 London Marathon, finishing second behind Martin Lel with a 2:07:44. He was runner up behind Lel once again at the 2007 New York City Marathon (2:09:16). At the 2008 London Marathon he placed 3rd in 2:05:30 shattering the course record with champion Lel and runner-up Wanjiru. Although Goumri's performances have been lackluster as of late (6th place at the 2009 London Marathon and DNF from the 2009 World Championships); if his performance levels are right, he has a chance at winning.
Kipruto who like Wanjiru at only twenty-two years of age is still finding his legs. In 2008 he debuted at the Reims Marathon with a 3rd place finish of 2:08:16. So far in 2009, he won his second third career marathon at the Paris Marathon, bettering his time by over two minutes (2:05:47). Despite having limited racing experience, he has the fastest time in the field from earlier this year.
Watch for Tola in his marathon debut. Turning 22 years old later this fall (11/31 to be exact), he has been a regular at races such as Healthy Kidney 10K, New York City Half Marathon, Cherry Blossom 10K and Bolder Boulder – winning most. While not the fastest competitor from 10k to half marathons, Tola is performs well in the US and his aggressive race tactics breaks his competition.
|Male Elite Athletes|
|Mohammed Amyn||Morocco||Debut|| History |
|Boaz Cheboiywo||Kenya||2:21:40, New York City, 2008|| History |
|Abderrahim Goumri||Morocco||2:05:30, London, 2008|| History |
|Procopio Herandez||Mexico||2:11:42, Torreon, 2004|| History |
|Vincent Kipruto||Kenya||2:05:47, Paris, 2009|| History |
|Wesley Korir||Kenya||2:08:24, Los Angeles, 2009|| History |
|Richard Limo||Kenya||2:06:45, Amsterdam, 2007|| History |
|Benjamin Maiyo||Kenya||2:07:09, Chicago, 2005|| History |
|Isaac Macharia||Kenya||2:07:16, Dubai, 2008|| History |
|Charles Munyeki||Kenya||Debut|| History |
|Seth Pilkington||USA||Debut|| History |
|Patrick Rizzo||USA||2:17:05, Boston, 2009|| History |
|Bret Schoolmeester||USA||Debut|| History |
|Tadese Tola||Ethiopia||Debut|| History |
|Sammy Wanjiru||Kenya||2:05:10, London, 2009|| History |