Chicago

Tura eyes second title in Windy City

It is not yet time to draw breath in this whirlwind season of Abbott World Marathon Majors racing.

Berlin’s jaw-dropping weekend gave way to London’s sun-drenched day for the record books and we now see Series XIV land in the Windy City for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

Chicago is no stranger to seeing the history of this sport re-written on its roads. In 2019, Brigid Kosgei became the fifth athlete to break a world record here, a trend that stretches back to Britain’s Steve Jones in 1984.

Kosgei will not be in town this time. Her compatriot, Ruth Chepng'etich, is here to seek a second straight Chicago title, as is men’s defending champion Seifu Tura.

In the women’s field, Ethiopia’s Ruti Aga and Kenya’s Celestine Chepchirchir perhaps pose the greatest threats to Chepng'etich’s hopes of a double on Columbus Drive, with Vivian Kiplagat and Haven Hailu Desse completing a list of five women to have run under 2:21.

The defending champion signaled her form earlier this year with a 2:17:18 in Nagoya the suggests she is gunning for this race to stay firmly in her pocket.

Chepchirchir and Kiplagat have both recorded their PBs in marathons this year, running 2:20:10 in Seoul and 2:20:18 in Milan respectively.

In the men’s race, Herpasa Negasa of Ethiopia boasts a 2:03:40 from Dubai in 2019, some 49 seconds quicker than the 2021 Chicago champion Tura. Bernard Koech, Elisha Rotich and Dawit Wolde are all also faster on paper than the winner in last year’s hot, humid conditions on the shores of lake Michigan.

Stephen Kissa of Uganda and Ethiopia’s Abayneh Degu make it a total of eight men under 2:05, but just outside that group is 2021 Boston champion Benson Kipruto.

There is plenty of respect due to an athlete who has been to the top of the mountain in an Abbott World Marathon Major, and to have done it on the challenging gradients of Boston suggests Kipruto may find more favorable ground in the famous flat, fast thoroughfares of The Second City.

Until Chepng'etich’s early departure from the rest of the competition last year, only Brigid Kosgei has made an early, decisive move on this course in recent years. The rest of the racing has come down to the final few kilometers, and the proximity of the times on these start lists suggest we could be in for some thrilling racing when we reach the pointy end of 2022’s contests.

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