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Chicago Marathon 2010 - Women's Field Bios
By Sharon Ekstrom
Liliya Shobukhova |
Irina Mikitenko |
Magarsa Assale Tafa |
Atsede Bayisa |
Liliya Shobukhova (Russia)
Defending 2010 Chicago Marathon Champion Liliya Shobukhova returns to the field for her fourth career marathon. Best known in the 3000m and 5000m, she made quite an entrance into the marathon distance when she debuted at the 2009 London Marathon. Having prepared for a 2:27 or 2:25 finish, Shobukhova surprised herself earning 3rd place in 2:24:24.
She followed up that achievement with a victory at the 2009 Chicago Marathon in 2:25:56. While the win was impressive, her strategy in the race was incredible, as she surged then completed the final mile of the race in 4:35 (the fastest mile in the race) - besting veteran marathoners like 2009 London Marathon defending champion Irina Mikitenko, 2010 Houston and Boston Marathon winner Teyba Erkesso and Ethiopian national record holder in the marathon Berhane Adere.
For 2010, Shobukhova returned to London, once again taking on Mikitenko and a strong field of Russian and Ethiopian talent. Duplicating her finish in Chicago, Shobukhova sped to victory in the last mile of the race (2:22:00), proving herself as a tough competitor who can deliver a devastating finishing kick. Of note for 2010, her racing schedule has been light with her victory in London and DNF at the 10000m at the European Cup in Barcelona. Given her fitness levels on race day, if she can once again deliver this fatal blow within the last mile of the race at the 2010 edition of the Chicago Marathon, she will take her third consecutive marathon title. Also on the line for Shobukhova is the 2009/2010 World Marathon Majors title and $500,000 prize, which is hers to lose. Only one scenario can deny Shobukhova that prize: a win by Mikitenko combined with a fifth or worse finish for Shobukhova.
Irina Mikitenko (Germany)
photo credit: Clive Rose / Getty Images Sport
PB: 2:19:19, 2008 Berlin Marathon
Two time London Marathon winner (2008, 2009) and Berlin Marathon champion (2008) Irina Mikitenko returns to the Chicago Marathon field seeking redemption. As the fastest female marathoner in the field, this World Marathon Majors Champion and German national marathon record holder boasts a 2:19:19 from the 2008 Berlin Marathon which is the fastest women's marathon finish in two years! Having been the odds-on favorite in the past, Mikitenko's DNF at the 2010 London Marathon had broken a string of marathon successes - having won or been runner-up at every marathon she has participated in (2008/2009 Berlin, 2009 London, 2009 Chicago).
A track star with a lengthy history at the 5000m distance, 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), and showed consistency returning to win the 2008 Berlin Marathon that autumn in a personal best of 2:19:19 - breaking the 2:20 barrier which only eight women have ever done. As fourth fastest female marathoner of all time Mikitenko took a second victory of the 2009 London Marathon (2:22:11).
While the latter portion of 2009 was mentally tough for her, Mikitenko withdrew from the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, on her home turf, having missed weeks of training following the death of her father weeks prior to the event. She returned to racing at the 2009 Chicago Marathon only to take second to Liliya Shobukova whose surge in the race's final mile guaranteed her the win. While Mikitenko most recently dropped out of the Great North Run (half marathon) in September due to a cold, there is no question that if she starts the race in top form, she will not let Shobkhova break away from her so easily.
Magarsa Assale Tafa (aka Askale Tafa Margarsa) (Ethiopia)
photo credit: Victah Sailer / Photo Run
PB: 2:21:31, 2008 Berlin Marathon
Magarsa Assale Tafa is a marathon specialist with 14 career marathons to her resume and the second fastest time in the field - a personal best of 2:21:31 from the 2008 Berlin Marathon where she finished 2nd to Irina Mikitenko). While she has a number of top ten finishes to her name, consistency is not her forte; but her recent finishes of the past three years on flat fast courses average between 2:21:31 and 2:27:29. Also, her personal best at the Lisbon Half Marathon (2nd place, 70:46) could be indicative that she is capable of a top performance in Chicago.
Atsede Bayisa (aka Atsede Baysa) (Ethiopia)
A second top Ethopian female marathoner in the field is Atsede Bayisa who is the two-time winner of the Paris Marathon (2009 and 2010).With twelve career marathons to her resume, Bayisa has 11 top-ten finishes including a winning streak for 2010 with a 2:28:53 at the Xiamen Marathon in January and a 2:22:04 personal best at the Paris Marathon in April. She also won the 2010 Paris Half Marathon in 71:05.
Mamitu Daska (Ethiopia)
PB: 2:24:19, 2010 Dubai Marathon
Mamitu Daska has been a prominent name on the American road racing circuit in the recent years. Having had top finishes at Freihofers 5K (2009, 2nd place; 2010, 3rd place), two wins at the Bolder Boulder (2009, 2010) and top five performances at Boilermaker, Bloomsday, Bay to Breakers, New York City Half and Falmouth Road Race, Daska has only two career marathons under her belt - 2:26:38 (2009 Berlin Marathon - 3rd place) and 2:24:19 (2010 Dubai Marathon - 1st place). And going into Chicago having just earned a half marathon personal best time in 68:07 at the 2010 Delhi Half Marathon, is promising for an interesting women's race.