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LRC: 2008 Bank of America Chicago Marathon Women's Preview
For the last five days, we've unveiled one runner in our 2008 Bank of American Chicago Marathon Top 5 Women's Countdown. If you missed the countdown, you can click here or scroll to the bottom of this article. Now it's time to give you our overall race preview.
The storyline for the women's race at the 2008 Bank of America Chicago Marathon is quite simple to understand and very compelling. The race features the two-time defending champion and fastest PR marathoner in the field (and the fastest in 2008), Berhane Adere, against the Olympic Champion, Constantina Tomescu-Dita, herself a former champion in Chicago. Adere and Tomescu-Dita are two seasoned veterans at age 35 and age 38 and they will be challenged by a young upstart in 25-year-old Bezunesh Bekele.
We think one of those three women will win the race. There are other accomplished runners in the field, including our #4 and #5 picks in #4 Kiyoko Shimahara of Japan and #5 Worknesh Tola of Ethiopia, but neither of them has ever broken 2:25 in a marathon. Except for last year's scorcher that was held in 90-degree-plus heat, you have to go back all the way to 1999 to find a winning time in Chicago over 2:25. So Tola and Shimahara can pretty much be ruled out.
Many casual observers of elite marathoning probably think the fact that Tomescu-Dita is trying to run two good marathons in 56 days is a big cause for concern. We've extensively analyzed her past and she has a long history of running a championship marathon in August (either the World Championships or Olympics) and then coming to Chicago and running even faster. On three occasions, in 2003, 2004 and 2005, she did exactly that, so the short time between races doesn't scare us off from picking her to win.
Clearly, if she runs better in Chicago than she did in the Olympics, she will win in Chicago. But we don't think she'll win for two reasons. One, she's only won four of the 26 marathons she's entered in her lifetime. So 85% of the time, she doesn't get the job done and it's hard to pick against that stat. Secondly, we think there is a huge emotional letdown after winning the Olympic marathon gold. Post-Olympic celebrations and media appearances often can greatly interrupt one's training. It certainly didn't surprise us that the men's Olympic marathon champ, Sammy Wanjiru, recently pulled out of this weekend's World Half Marathon Championships, citing post-Olympic fatigue.