FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
THE 2006 LASALLE BANK CHICAGO MARATHON ELITE ATHLETE PREVIEW
CHICAGO (Oct. 5, 2006) – The 2006 LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon will
welcome some of the world's top talent to its 29th running on Sunday, Oct.
22. Defending men's champion Felix Limo (KEN) will lead a fast and deep
men's line-up, while Ludmila Petrova (RUS) and Constantina Tomescu-Dita
(ROM) head up the highly competitive women's hopefuls.
The explosive men's and women's fields will compete for portions of the
event's $650,000 prize purse. Men's and women's champions will earn
$125,000 each plus significant time bonuses. They will also be seeking to
put points on the new World Marathon Majors (WMM) leader board as two of
the three men tied for the series lead will face-off in Chicago.
The LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon is the fourth of five races in the first
year of a two-year circuit. The inaugural male and female champions will
each be awarded $500,000 in the fall of 2007. The overlapping series will
launch its second season at the 2007 Boston Marathon and award the 2007-08
champions in fall 2008 with $500,000 each.
Led by Limo, the Kenyan-dominated men's field includes five runners who
have run under 2:07 and eight who have bettered 2:08. Led by Petrova, the
2000 ING New York City Marathon champion and runner-up at London this past
April, four female entrants, including 2004 Chicago champion Tomescu-Dita,
have personal bests below 2:22, and six have bested 2:25.
'People come here to run fast,' Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski
said. 'To win Chicago rivals any win in the world. We have a nice blend of
very talented athletes that have performed on grand stages around the
world. Hopefully, the chemistry of these individuals will set for some very
Previewing the Men
Limo, known for his strong finishing kick and overall consistency, is
poised to expand his international prominence, which already includes
second place at Amsterdam in 2003 (2:06:42) and victories at Rotterdam
(2:06:14) and real,- Berlin (2:06:44) in 2004, Chicago (2:07:02) in 2005
and Flora London (2:06:39) this past April.
'Felix is the favorite,' Pinkowski said. 'He's a great athlete and focuses
only on the marathon. You don't see him at many other road races. I think
he can run well under 2:06, and if all things go according to plan, he
could run well under the event record of 2:05:42 (set by Moroccan Khalid
Khannouchi, now a U.S. citizen, in 1999).'
Also a threat to win, Daniel Njenga, 30, (KEN), who trains in Japan, again
has his eyes on first place after finishing second, third, second and third
the last four years in Chicago. He knows the fast, flat course well. His
personal best of 2:06:16 came at Chicago in 2002. He has tasted victory,
winning the Tokyo International Marathon in 2004.
Other sub-2:07 runners are Robert Cheboror, 27, (KEN), the 2004 Amsterdam
winner in 2:06:23; Wilson Onsare, 30, (KEN), who ran 2:06:47 for third at
Paris in 2003; and Charles Kibiwott, 32, (KEN), who was third at Rotterdam
in April with a 2:06:52.
Also talented enough to win are Robert K. Cheruiyot, 28, (KEN), who ran a
personal best and course record 2:07:14 to win Boston in April for the
second time and earn a tie for the WMM lead; Benjamin Maiyo, 28, (KEN), a
frontrunner who placed second to Limo last year in 2:07:09, also ran second
in Boston this year at 2:08:21, second at Los Angeles in 2005 and is tied
for fourth in the WMM standings; Jimmy Muindi, 33, (KEN), who posted a
2:07:50 in 2005 at Rotterdam, but who is best known as a five-time winner
of the Honolulu Marathon and Thomas Kiplitan, 23, (KEN), who has been
training well, though his best time is only 2:10:05.
'I'm prepared mentally and physically, knowing there's some tough
competition,' Limo said of the prospect of running against four other '2:06
'It's real simple,' Pinkowski said. 'The other guys know they have to get
away from Limo because he's such a great finisher.'
Previewing the Women
The women's field promises to be evenly matched with any number of runners
capable of taking the title. It is likely to be a very tactical race
matching young, new talent against older, experienced runners.
Petrova, 38, the mother of children ages 17 and 12, is running stronger
than ever, having established a Russian national record of 2:21:29 at
London this year. She ran 2:25:45 when she won New York six years ago.
Tomescu-Dita, 36, was first in Chicago in 2004 and second in both 2003 and
2005 when she set her personal best and Romanian national record of
2:21:30. She seeks to regain her crown and become the seventh woman to win
the race two times
Berhane Adere, 33, (ETH) had an outstanding performance at London in April,
finishing fourth in 2:21:52. She showed she is fit on Oct., 1, winning the
BUPA Great North Run half marathon in Newcastle, England in 1:10:01.
Galina Bogomolova, 29, (RUS) was fifth at London in 2:21:58, following a
second-place marathon debut in Las Vegas last December. This summer she
posted a solid fourth-place finish in the European Championships 10,000m in
August, but will concentrate on lowering her marathon time in Chicago.
Others with very strong credentials include Lidia Simon, 33, (ROM), who
owns a personal best of 2:22:54; Hiromi Ominami, 30, (JPN), who was second
at Rotterdam in 2003 and second again at Berlin in 2004 with a 2:23:26; and
Benita Johnson, 27, (AUS), who is making her first serious effort at the
marathon distance after years of excellence in track and cross-country.
Best American hopes at Chicago this year rest with Brian Sell, 28, who was
fourth at Boston this year in 2:10:55, and Abdi Abdirahman, 29, who has run
2:11:24 and was second at the Philadelphia Distance Classic half marathon
in September with a time of 1:01:07.
Edwardo Torres, 25, who starred locally at Wheeling High, the University of
Colorado and on the world cross-country stage, will make his marathon
debut. He was the top American finisher this year at the Falmouth Road Race
Khannouchi, a four-time winner of The LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon and the
event-record holder, is not racing Chicago this year because of a minor
foot injury. He ran at London in April, placing fourth.
On the women's side, masters star Colleen De Reuck, 42, (2:26:35) will be
joined by Elva Dryer, 35, and Melissa White, 25, who will make their
debuts. All have the financial incentive of The LaSalle Bank Chicago
Marathon's American Development Bonus program and time bonuses for posting
2008 Olympic Trial qualifying times.
'Our philosophy is to get the best athletes we can, let them prepare, bring
them in and turn them loose,' Pinkowski said.
A complete list of elite athletes competing in The 2006 LaSalle Bank
Chicago Marathon follows:
Name Country Personal Record
Abdi Abdirahman USA 2:11:24
Robert Cheboror KEN 2:06:23
Robert Cheruiyot KEN 2:07:14
Jason Hartmann USA Debut
John Henwood NZL 2:15:05
Luke Humphrey USA 2:15:23
Chad Johnson USA 2:16:57
Charles Kibiwott KEN 2:06:52
Thomas Kiplitan KEN 2:10:05
Salim Kipsang KEN 2:08:04
Felix Limo KEN 2:06:14
Benjamin Maiyo KEN 2:07:09
Jimmy Muindi KEN 2:07:50
Daniel Njenga KEN 2:06:16
Wilson Onsare KEN 2:06:47
Brian Sell USA 2:10:55
Edwardo Torres USA Debut
Clint Verran USA 2:14:12
John Yuda TAN 2:10:13
Name Country Personal Record
Berhane Adere ETH 2:21:52
Galina Bogomolova RUS 2:21:58
Kathy Butler GBR 2:30:01
Colleen De Reuck USA 2:26:35
Elva Dryer USA Debut
Benita Johnson AUS 2:26:32
Nuta Olaru ROM 2:24:33
Hiromi Ominami JPN 2:23:26
Madai Perez Carrillo MEX 2:26:50
Ludmila Petrova RUS 2:21:29
Dulce Maria Rodríguez MEX 2:29:00
Lidia Simon ROM 2:22:54
Constantina Tomescu-Dita ROM 2:21:30
Melissa White USA Debut
The 29th LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon will officially start at 8:00 a.m.
on Sunday, Oct. 22 in Grant Park. The Race will be broadcast live on CBS 2
CHICAGO and The Score Sportsradio 670 AM. Race news, results, photos and
in-race results are available at chicagomarathon.com.