Kenyans Lucy Kabuu and Florence Kiplagat, bot sub-2:20 runners, will contest the The Bank of America Chicago Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, on 7 October.
Kabuu currently has the third fastest performance of the year - and No. 14 all-time - after her 2:19:34 run at the Dubai Marathon in January while Kiplagat is ranked No. 18 all-time after winning the 2011 BMW Berlin Marathon in 2:19:44.
"Lucy and Florence are two of the most exciting athletes in the sport," said Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski. "They are both relatively new to the Marathon, which, combined with what they have accomplished on the track and in cross country, promises a very bright future ahead. The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is a course that will suit them well and I think these two athletes will push each other to even greater heights."
Kabuu is a two-time Olympian with top 10 finishes in the 10,000m at the 2004 and 2008 Games. After breaking from competition in 2009 and 2010 to recover from injury and start a family, she turned her attention to the roads and found immediate success. Dubai was her first Marathon, and her debut ranks as the second fastest all-time (behind Marathon World record holder Paula Radcliffe). In April, she placed fifth at the 2012 Virgin London Marathon, narrowly missing out on making her third Olympic team.
Kiplagat is Kenya's 10,000me record-holder (30:11.53) and has won two gold medals on the world stage - the 2009 World Cross Country title (long course) and the 2010 World Half Marathon title. After she was unable to finish the 2011 Boston Marathon, Kiplagat conquered the Marathon distance in Berlin, besting stalwarts Radcliffe and Irina Mikitenko of Germany for the win. Her bid to make her first Olympics fell agonizingly short; with the top three finishers qualifying for the Kenyan team, she placed fourth in her country's Marathon trials (2012 London Marathon) and 10,000m trials.
Also joining the field is Kenya's Caroline Rotich, the fourth place finisher from the 2011 Boston Marathon with a personal best of 2:24:26, will compete in the Chicago Marathon for the first time.
Incredibly, it has been 10 years since a Kenyan woman broke the finish tape in Chicago - that being Catherine Ndereba in 2001 in a then-world record of 2:18:47. In fact, since Ndereba's runner-up performance the following year, a Kenyan woman has not finished among Chicago's top three, and only Joyce Chepchumba (fourth, 2004) has finished among the top five. This trio of Kenyan athletes will look to put an end to the winless streak at the 2012 event.