2:04:38 course record for Tsegaye Kebede in Chicago (© Getty Images)
(Note: Kebede was announced on 28 September by the organisers as withdrawing from the 2015 race due to injury.)
Organisers of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon announced that 2012 champion Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia and half marathon world record-holder Florence Kiplagat of Kenya will return to the IAAF Gold Label Road Race on Sunday 11 October.
Kebede, the 2008 Olympic bronze medallist and 2009 world bronze medallist, is one of the most accomplished and consistent marathon runners of the past decade. He has run faster than 2:07 on 10 occasions, winning in twice in London, twice in Fukuoka and once in Paris. He set his PB of 2:04:38 when winning in Chicago in 2012.
As the fifth-fastest man in history over the half marathon, Sammy Kitwara will toe the line in Chicago for the fourth time after steadily rising in the ranks over the past three years. He finished fourth in 2012, third in 2013 and second in 2014. He set a personal best of 2:04:28 last year in Chicago, making him the fastest man in this year's elite field.
Kebede and Kitwara will be joined by Kenyans Dickson Chumba, Wesley Korir, Lucas Rotich and Sammy Ndungu.
Chumba burst on to the scene in 2014 with a win and course record at the Tokyo Marathon. He followed that with a third-place finish at the 2014 Chicago Marathon in a personal best of 2:04:32.
Korir will make his seventh appearance in Chicago, the most of any elite athlete in the field. Career highlights include his second-place finish at the 2011 Chicago Marathon, followed by his victory in Boston in 2012 and his fifth-place finish and personal best of 2:06:13 in Chicago in 2012.
Ethiopia’s Endeshaw Negesse (2:04:52) has a lot at stake in his Chicago Marathon debut. As the 2015 winner of the Tokyo Marathon, he is in the running for the World Marathon Majors series title and needs to score in Chicago to have a chance at the $500,000 prize.
Also in the hunt from Ethiopia are Tilahun Regassa and Abera Kuma. Regassa, who placed second at this year’s Xiamen Marathon and fifth at the London Marathon, made his marathon debut in Chicago in 2012 in a time that remains his personal best, 2:05:27. Kuma won the Rotterdam Marathon in April, and he holds a personal best of 2:05:56.
Yoshii Satoshi leads a strong contingent of Japanese runners, while Australia's Liam Adams, Canada's Rob Watson and Great Britain's Mitch Goose round out the international field.
Fernando Cabada will be the top US runner in the field. He set his personal best, 2:11:36, last year in Berlin.
Florence Kiplagat comes back to Chicago after finishing second in 2:25:57 last year. The 2010 world half-marathon champion and two-time Berlin Marathon champion broke her own half marathon world record in February, clocking 1:05:09 in Barcelona. She also has a marathon PB of 2:19:44.
Mulu Seboka of Ethiopia enters Chicago seeking her first big city win. Over the past decade, she has run more than 35 marathons and is still improving, setting a PB of 2:21:56 in Dubai earlier this year.
In addition to Seboka and Kiplagat, Ethiopia's Amane Gobena hopes to be among the leaders down the homestretch. She arrives fresh off a personal best and a second-place finish at the 2015 Paris Marathon in 2:23:30.
Japan’s Kayoko Fukushi will be hoping to prevent an East African sweep. The 2011 Chicago runner-up has a marathon personal best of 2:24:21 and a half marathon PB of 1:07:26.
Ireland’s two-time European cross-country champion Fionnuala Britton will be chasing an Olympic qualifying time in the marathon. Britain’s Susan Partridge will head to Chicago with the same goal, while Burundi’s Diane Nukuri and Denmark's Jessica Draskau Petersson are also in the field.
US record-holder Deena Kastor will attempt to break Colleen De Reuck's national masters record of 2:28:40.
National marathon champion Blake Russell is also among the US contenders, along with Lindsey Scherf, Sara Hall and Tera Moody.
"These athletes have the ability to test themselves and chase their goals on race day," said executive race director Carey Pinkowski. "The streets of Chicago will see some incredible talent and competition as these men and women show off their Olympic-level talent."
This year’s race will be the first time under Pinkowski's 26-year leadership that the event will not feature elite pace makers. This change has the potential to produce more Olympic-like race conditions and a more strategic, tactical competition for runners, although time bonuses still remain intact.
Organisers for the IAAF