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Women's Race Coverage |
Men's Preview |
2009 Bank of America Chicago Marathon - Women's Preview
by Sharon Ekstrom
The Chicago Marathon is nearly as well known for its women's race as for its men's races and 2009 is shaping up to feature some of the best women currently in marathoning. 2008 defending champion Lidiya Grigoryeva (RUS, PR: 2:25:10) will face tough competition including Deena Kastor (USA, PR: 2:19:36), the Chicago and London Marathon winner and American record holder; Irina Mikitenko (GER, PR: 2:19:19), the Berlin and London Marathon winner and German record holder; Teyiba Erkesso (ETH, PR: 2:24:18) 2009 Houston Marathon champion; and Liliya Shobukhova (RUS, PR: 2:24:24), the third place finisher from the 2009 London Marathon. With the two fastest women - Kastor and Mikitenko - returning from short lay-offs in training, the field may be wide open.
photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images Sport
Irina Mikitenko winning the 2009 London Marathon
World Record Moments in Chicago
The women's race at the Chicago Marathon is no stranger to quick times. The 2001 and 2002 races saw back to back world records as first Catherine Ndereba set a new world mark of 2:18:47 in 2001 and Paual Radcliffe followed up with a 2:17:18 finish in 2002 - still the second fastest time ever run by a woman; and followed in that race by Ndereba who ran 2:19:26 for second place and a time that remains in the top ten times ever run by a woman. On the American front, Joan Benoit set the American record in her 2:21:21 win at the 1985 Chicago Marathon - an American record that would stand for more than 17 years until Deena Kastor broke it in London. And compared to other American marathons for speed, Chicago has no peer as evidenced by the fact that 8 of the 10 fastest women's marathons run on American soil have been run in Chicago (the other two were run in Boston).
Most of the fastest female marathoners from the USA, Europe and Africa have raced in the Chicago Marathon at one time. Name a marathoner and they are likely to have run Chicago, including Joan Benoit Samuelson, Paula Radcliffe, Catherine Ndereba, Constantina Dita, Benita Johnson, Ingrid Kristiansen, Yoko Shibui, Berhane Adere, Deena Kastor, Madai Perez, Rosa Mota, Lornah Kiplagat, Svetlana Zakharova, Lyudmila Petrova, Lisa Wiedenbach, Margaret Okayu, Elena Meyer, Colleen De Reuck and many others.
Irina Mikitenko will be the fastest woman in the field and the odds-on favorite. Mikitenko debuted at the 2007 Berlin Marathon finishing in second place in 2:24:51. She won her second career marathon at the 2008 London Marathon (2:24:14), but showed true talent when returning to the Berlin Marathon that autumn to win the race in a 2:19:19 breaking the psychological 2:20 barrier and setting a new German National Record, and ultimately earning her the World Marathon Majors Series championship title. Mikitenko continued her streak with a three-peat victory at the 2009 London Marathon (2:22:11). Mikitenko is the fastest female in the field with the fastest marathon finish so far in 2009 and will be the clear favorite. But after missing some weeks of training following the death of her father earlier this year, it's possible that Mikitenko might be a bit off her top form.
Deena Kastor, the Bronze medalist at the 2004 Olympics will be the local favorite based on her past performances at Chicago and her standing as America's fastest female marathoner. In 2003, Kastor (then Drossin) broke Joan Benoit Samuelson's long standing American Record (1985 Chicago Marathon, 2:21:21) of nearly twenty years at the 2003 London Marathon. In that race she finished third in a 2:21:16 behind Radcliffe's world record performace. Kastor's victories at the 2005 Chicago Marathon (2:21:25) and subsequent American record and sub 2:20 performance at the 2006 London Marathon (2:19:36) indicate her ability to perform well on fast, flat courses. Following her easy victory of the 2008 US Olympic Team Trials in Boston, pressure mounted as the Olympics approached, but the unexpected happened; an injury forced her to drop out of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Marathon in the first 5K of the race and since then a series of minor setbacks have impeded her performances. As the Chicago Marathon looms, all eyes are once again on Kastor who had previously said she was hoping to run a new personal best.
While many variables can unseat any top contender on race day, other athletes in the field are 2:24-2:25 marathoners: Lidiya Grigoryeva will be looking to defend her 2008 title and is also well known for her victory in the 2007 Boston Marathon (2:29:18) in challenging stormy conditions. Teyiba Erkesso did not finish the 2007 edition of the Chicago Marathon, but the twenty-seven year old won the only other marathon she has ever run: the 2009 Chevron Houston Marathon. Liliya Shobukhova, a relative newcomer to the marathon distance will be running her second marathon at Chicago after having placed third in 2:24:24 earlier in the year at the 2009 London Marathon.
|Female Elite Athletes|
|Teyba Erkesso||Ethiopia||2:24:18, Houston, 2009|| History |
|Lidiya Grigoryeva||Russia||2:25:10, Los Angeles, 2006|| History |
|Carol Jefferson||USA||Debut|| History |
|Deena Kastor||USA||2:19:36, London, 2006|| History |
|Irina Mikitenko||Germany||2:19:19, Berlin, 2008|| History |
|Tera Moody||USA||2:33:54, U.S. Olympic Trials, 2008|| History |
|Mizuho Nasukawa||Japan||2:25:38, Tokyo, 2009|| History |
|Adriana Pirtea||Romania||2:28:52, London, 2008|| History |
|Liliya Shobukhova||Russia||2:24:24, London, 2009|| History |
|Melissa White||USA||2:37:53, U.S. Olympic Trials, 2008|| History |