Liliya Shobukhova of Russia will go for an unprecedented fourth consecutive victory at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on 7 October.
After she was unable to finish the Olympic Games Marathon on 5 August due to stomach cramps, Shobukhova, a pre-race gold medal favorite, will look to get back to her winning ways in this IAAF Gold Label Road Race's 35th running where she is undefeated in three appearances.
"It was heartbreaking to withdraw from the Olympic Marathon after I had trained so hard and my preparation had gone so well," said Shobukhova. "But I am still very fit and in good health, and I am going to focus all my energy on a great performance at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.
"There is no place that I feel more comfortable than when I am competing in Chicago. I love the course and appreciate the support from the fans. I am especially motivated to win for the fourth time in a row, which has never been done before in Chicago."
Shobukhova, who ran the third-fastest time in history (2:18:20) to win last year's race, will face her stiffest competition yet in the bid for her fourth title. Sub-2:20 performer Lucy Kabuu of Kenya (2:19:34) stands in her way, as does Ethiopia's Ejegayehu Dibaba, who ran 2:22:09 in a runner-up finish to Shobukhova last year. These three athletes have the potential to put Paula Radcliffe's 10-year-old course record of 2:17:18 in jeopardy. Kenya's Florence Kiplagat was forced to withdraw from the field due to an injury.
"Liliya has already made history at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon with three victories in a row, and this year she has a chance to join the great Khalid Khannouchi with four total victories," said Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski. "She is truly one of the great champions of the sport, and while her race at the Olympics was not what she had wished for, she has a chance to return to the top of the world in Chicago."
Last year, Shobukhova became the first runner to win three consecutive Chicago Marathon titles, and a fourth victory would tie her for the most ever in Chicago. Khalid Khannouchi won four times in the span of six years (1997, 1999, 2000, 2002).