2013 Chicago Marathon Men’s Preview: Who Will Emerge In Loaded Men’s Field? Do Americans Tegenkamp and Ritzenhein Have A Chance?

by LetsRun.com
October 10, 2013

The men’s race 2013 Bank of America Chicago Marathon is going to be stellar. Unlike the first World Marathon Major of the fall, Berlin, where it was easy to predict the men’s race (in our preview, we said there were three studs and they went 1-2-3), predicting what is going to happen in Chicago on Sunday is far from easy.

The field is LOADED with talent as race director Carey Pinkowski has done a stellar job yet again. How loaded? Well, let’s try to put this in perspective for US fans. The field is so loaded that we only rank America’s #1 hope 12:56 5000, 60:00 half-marathon and 2:07:47 marathon man Dathan Ritzenhein as the 10th most likely man to win the race on paper. That’s crazy as Ritz has been enjoying a strong 2013 campaign during which he’s run the second fastest 5000 of his career (13:09).

Below we give you the ten leading candidates for victory. But we want this to be entertaining so we’ve broken them down into four categories – “The Four Marathon Studs”, “The Three Half-Marathon Studs” (who haven’t arrived as marathon stars), “The 26:35 Guy Who Was The Boston Marathon Runner-up In His Marathon Debut”, and “The Kenyan (and Younger) Ritz and Ritz himself”.

After each category, we give you a quick summation of what we think about that group on paper. Later today (Thursday), we’ll be on the ground in Chicago to for the international press conference. Tomorrow, we’ll be at the US press conference. We’ll be sure to give you insight on the press conference and make our predictions later in the week.

Update: The first press conference is in the books, and we know that many of the top stars listed below say they are in good form – Mosop, Tadese, Kimetto, Abshero –  5 Takeaways From Thursday’s One-On-One Interviews

Article continues below player.

The Four Marathon Studs

Moses Mosop after seeting the 35k World Record in Eugene in 2011

1. Moses Mosop – Kenya – 28 years old
Marathon Pb: 2:03:06 for 2nd in Boston (2011)
2013 Marathon: None, pulled out before Dubai and Boston.
Prep races: None.
What he has going for him: 3 career marathons have all been great. Spring 2011: 2:03:06 wind-aided debut in Boston. Fall 2011: 2:05:37 win in Chicago. Spring 2012: 2:05:03 for third in Rotterdam.
Negatives? No results at all for 2013. No marathons since spring of 2012.
Overall: Heading into 2012, he was viewed as one of the very best marathoners in the world. Last year, he elected to not defend his Chicago crown and go to New York instead, but NYC was cancelled and with his injuries this spring, he hasn’t finished run a marathon in a year and a half. Chicago’s listed him first on their media guide but he’s not our #1 choice.

2. Dennis Kimetto – Kenya – 29 years old
Marathon PB: 2:04:16 world record debut (2nd) in Berlin 2012.
2013 Marathon:
Victory in Tokyo in February in 2:06:50.
Prep races: 47:32 10 miler on August 2nd (2nd place).
What he has going for him: His two marathons are a 2:04:16 2nd place in Berlin last fall where it appeared he let Mutai win, anda World Marathon Major win in Tokyo.
Negatives: None really
Overall: The 25k world record holder set a world record for a marathon debut last year in Berlin on a records-eligible course. It’s amazing that this guy had zero race results before age 27. We’d love to know what he was doing with his life before becoming a world beater at age 27.

3. Ayale Abshero – Ethiopia – 22 years old
Marathon PB: 2:04:23 win in Dubai in 2012.
2013 Marathon: Third in London in 2:06:57
Prep races: None.
What he has going for him: 22 years young, former world junior xc champ and former fastest debut marathoner in history.
Negatives: Didn’t win in London.
Overall: After his first marathon in Dubai, which was a then a world’s best debut on a records-eligible course, we anointed this former world cross country junior champ a star. His DNF at the Olympics was disappointing, but he’s still just 22 and he was one of four guys on 2:03:30 pace in London this spring at 30k.

Emmanuel Mutai at home in Kenya in 2012. More Great Photos From Kenya 2012.

4. Emmanuel Mutai- Kenya – 28 years old (turns 29 on Saturday)
Marathon PB: 2:04:40 (2011 London 1st)
2013 Marathon: 2nd in London in 2:06:33
Prep races: 28:22 for third at Beach to Beacon, 32:20 for third at Falmouth.
What he has going for him: He looked to be the winner in London this spring at 40k but fell apart and only ran 5:41 pace the way home. We love the fact he ran several prep races in August but he lost to fellow Chicago runner Kogo in both.
Negatives: Very good at finishing second. He’s been second at Worlds (2009), London twice (2010 and 2013), and New York twice (2010 and 2011), but has only won one major.
Overall: He’s a true professional who is amazingly consistent. Has run 11 career marathons (all of them majors) and only not finished in the top five twice. More often than not, he’s second place (five times).

Overall Comments About The Four Marathon Studs: Ranking these four is very tough. We listed them in the order that Chicago has ranked them in terms of bib number, but if we had to rank them in order of most likely to win before getting a chance to talk to any of them, we’d say:

1) Abshero/Kimetto (tie). Kimetto is a little more accomplished but Abshero is younger.
3) Mutai (only because he rarely wins)
Incomplete: Mosop (how can we rank someone who hasn’t really raced in 18 months?).

Update: Mosop says he’s in good form: 5 Takeaways From Thursday’s One-On-One Interviews

Three Half-Marathon Studs (who haven’t quite arrived as marathon stars)

Chicago has three of the six fastest half-marathon men in history in its field (three of the five fastest clean ones if you remove a drug cheat). As you can see from the list below, normally a great half-marathon time results in a great marathon time so it will be interesting to see what these guys do on Sunday.

The Fastest Half-Marathoners in History/Their Marathon Accomplishments.
Bold = Running Chicago

1 58:23 Zersenay Tadese 2:10:41 but running Chicago
2 58:33 Samuel Wanjiru 2008 Olympic champ, one of all-time greats.
3 58:41 Bernard Koech 2:04:53 marathon pb
4 58:46 Mathew Kisorio drug cheat
5 58:47 Atsedu Tsegay debut in Chicago
6 58:48 Sammy Kitwara 2:05:54 (also in Chicago field)
7 58:52 Patrick Makau 2:03:38 former world record holder

Zersenay Tadese after winning World Half Marathon in 2009 *More 2009 World Half-Marathon Photos

1. Zerseney Tadese -Eritrea – 31 years old
Marathon PB: 2:10:41 (14th in London last year)
2013 Marathon: None.
Prep races: None. Did run 60:10 and 60:31 in winning two half-marathons in April.
What he has going for him: He’s the current world record holder at half-marathon (58:23). 5-time World Champion at Half-Marathon/20k, one time world champion in cross country. When he made his marathon debut in 2009, it was one of the most hyped debuts in history.
Negatives: Up until now, he’s viewed as the biggest failure ever in terms of guys who were great at the half-marathon (58:23) and 10,000 (26:37) but not the marathon (MB: List of fast 10kers, but failed marathoners).
Overall: In his three other attempts at the marathon, he ran a lot of races (either cross country or half-marathons) right before hand and did well in them, but not the marathon. This year, he’s taking a different path which may be wise. To be truthful, you don’t want to be in 58:23 half-marathon shape a month before a marathon if you are training right and that was the case in 2010.  Now that expectations are down, will 2013 be the first time he lives up to his potential in the marathon?

2. Atsedu Tsegay – Ethiopia – 21 years old
Marathon PB: Debut
Prep races: 61:31 half-marathon (4th place) in Lille on Sept. 1.
What he has going for him: Ethiopian national record holder at half-marthon (58:47 from 2012). Only 21 years old.
Negatives: Just 21.
Overall: Tsegay is prime example #1 as to how guys are now starting their careers on the road. After his 58:47 half, he tried to run well at 10,000 (DNF last year, 27:28 this year) but there is way more money and prestige at 26.2. If he does well here, the marathon has yet another new and young star.

3. Sammy Kitwara – Kenya – 26 years old
Marathon PB: 2:05:54 (4th in Chicago last year)
2013 Marathon: 2:07:22 for third in Rotterdam
Prep races: 28:17 for 4th at Peachtree in July.
What he has going for him: 58:48 half-marathon pb from 2011 Philly.
Negatives: Not nearly as accomplished as the first four guys at the marathon distance.
Overall: Based on his 58:48 half marathon pb, his marathon career has been a bit of a disappointment so far. It’s crazy we say that as he’s finished two marathons and was top 4 in both and hasn’t run slower than 2:07:22, but welcome to the year 2013 in the marathon. He didn’t slowly dip his toes into the marathon. In his first attempt (2012 Rotterdam), he went out in 61:38 and ended up a DNF.

Overall Comments About The Three Half-Marathon Studs: In terms of ranking these guys for the marathon (we listed them above in the order of their half-marathon PRs, but only 1 second separates Kitwara and Tsegay), we’ll stick with our order above. Here’s how we rank them in terms of “Whom we are most excited to see race.”

1) Tadese – We were wondering this summer if he’d ever take another crack at a marathon and we are pumped to see him try again here.
2) Tsegay – We love watching young studs debut as the anticipation is half the fun.
3) Kitwara – Hasn’t done anything big in any of his marathons.

The Boston Marathon Runner-Up/Former 26:35 Guy

Micah Kogo – KEN – 27-years old
Marathon PB: 2:10:27 2nd place showing in Boston in April in his debut where he lost a sprint finish to Lelisa Desisa.
Prep races: 28:04 win at Beach to Beacon and 32:10 win at Falmouth in August, defeating Emmanuel Mutai in both races.
What he has going for him: Former 26:35 10,000 runner (6th all-time) and former road 10k record holder (27:01) was excellent in his marathon debut.
Negatives: Has never run faster than 2:10.
Overall: Kogo is a very solid runner who did really well in his debut in Boston. With two wins over Mutai in August, there’s a lot to like about this “2:10” guy.

We wrote Kogo’s agent Ricky Simms and asked him about Kogo’s fitness and to see if he had any other guys in the field. Simms wrote back, “I have Micah Kogo and Mike Kigen in the race. Both have trained well. Mike is a great trainer – he made his debut in Dubai in January and was in the 2:04 lead group until 32km, then he died and ran 2:08. Hopefully he can go a lot faster this time. Micah is one of those guys who doesn’t push in training but usually runs well in races.”

So that brings us to yet another guy who we have to rank higher than Ritz in terms of chances of victory – Mike Kigen. We are calling him “The Kenyan (and Younger) Ritz” as Kigen’s stats are very similar to Ritz’s on paper.

“The Kenyan (and Younger) Ritz” and Ritz Himself

Mike Kigen – Kenya – 27-years old
2013 Marathon: 2:08:24 in marathon debut in July
Prep races: None (5th Peachtree on July 4th).
What he has going for him: Former sub-13:00 guy on track who was on 2:04 pace until 32k in his marathon debut.
Negatives: Always been just a bit behind the very top Kenyans.
Overall: The Kenyan version of Ritz 12:58 5000 pb (versus Ritz’s 12:56), 27:03 10,000 (versus Ritz’s 27:22), 59:58 half (versus Ritz’s 60:00) and 2:08:24 marathon (2:07:47 for Ritz).

Dathan Ritzenhein- USA- 30-years old
Marathon Pb:
2:07:47 for 9th last year in Chicago.
2013 Marathon: None
Prep races: 27:37 10,000 for 10th at Worlds in August.
What he has going for him: Former sub-13:00 guy on track who says he’s going to go for it and told Kelvin Selby last week he “is a lot more prepared” than last year. He also said he hopes he can run “a couple of minutes” faster than last year if everything is perfect and it’s a fast race. He was on 2:06:40 pace through mile 22 last year and hopes to go out between 62:45 and 63:00 this year.
Negatives: Has run five other international marathons, but highest finish is just 7th.
Overall: Ritz has been running very well in 2013 a shown by his 13:09 5000 – the second best of his career. That being said, why would we expect him to be way better than ever before at age 30 in his 8th career marathon?

Overall Comments About The Kenyan Ritz and Ritz: We understand if some thing Ritz should be ranked ahead of Kigen, but we put Kigen ahead of Ritz for two simple reasons.

1) Kigen is three years younger
2) Kigen has gone out at 2:04 pace before. Ritz hasn’t. Yes Kigen died, but he died to a time that is just off Ritz’s pb and it was Kigen’s debut. Ritz ran a smart race last year and it only got him ninth.

So there you have it. Chicago is loaded. The field actually includes one other 2:07:00 guy and another sub-2:10 guy from Japan and we haven’t even mentioned the debut of 12:58 and 27:28 man Matt Tegenkamp of the USA. We’ll give them some press now:

Tariku Jufar – Ethiopia – 29-years old – 2:06:51 pb
Why he’s not winning? 18-career marathons and only one (2:06:51 win in Houston in 2012) is under 2:07:00. That being said, he’s been placing very high in his last few marathons (first or second in six of his last seven).

Yoshinori Oda – Japan – 32-years old – 2:09:43 pb
Marathon Pb: 2:09:03 for 4th in Tokyo in 2011.
2013 Marathon: 2:17:24 in Tokyo.
Prep races: None that we know of.
What he has going for him: Former 27:53 10,000 guy who ran 2:09 in his debut.
Negatives: Hasn’t broken 2:17 in three marathons since his 2:09 debut.
Overall: If he were American, he’d be the fifth fastest American in history at the marathon. Why can’t the Americans learn the marathon like the Japanese? His 5k pb is 13:42 and yet he’s run 2:09.

Matt Tegenkamp is taller than many elites. More 2008 US Olympic Trials Photos

Matt Tegenkamp -United States- 31-years old 
Marathon Pb: None – debut.
Prep races: 60:20 20k victory at US champs in New Haven, 13:50 for 3rd at US 5k champs.
What he has going for him: Former 12:58 5000 guy who has a 27:28 5000 pb. Oda has run 2:09 and his pbs are 13:42/27:53.
Negatives: Seems to be more of a 5000 than 10,000 guy. 12:58 is better than 27:28. He doesn’t even have a 13.1 pb.
Overall: We’re excited to see the Midwest guy Tegenkamp track a crack at the 26.2 distance in Chicago. That being said, is he really a 5000 guy trying to hold on the final 23 miles? We’ll find out on Sunday.

In thinking about Tegenkamp, our thought initially was, “He’s kind of tall for a marathoner.” We say that knowing full well that one of the co-founders of this website was a 6’1 guy who struggled at the 26.2 distance. Well guess what? Tegenkamp is 6’1 as well (some sites list him at 6’2″).

We know there are some good tall marathoners but not that many. Tegenkamp’s training mate defied the odds at 10,000 (Chris Solinsky Is The Tallest And Heaviest Sub-27 Man In History), can Tegenkamp do it here?

Having read David Epstein‘s Sports Gene book this summer, we have been wondering ever since if the Kenyans are maybe even better suited for the marathon than other distances given their smaller legs. He talks about thinness of legs being an advantage but wouldn’t overall height matter as well?

We did a little research. Of the 10 guys we listed at the top being most likely to win it, we found the heights for eight of them. The tallest? 5’9″.

Heights of the 2013 Chicago Marathon Contenders
Zersenay Tadese – 5’3″
Emmanuel Mutai – 5’4″
Ayale Abshero – 5’6″
Moses Mosop – 5’7″
Micah Kogo – 5’7″
Mike Kigen – 5’8″
Dathan Ritzenhein – 5’8″
Sammy Kitwara – 5’9″

Now, we know there have been some good taller marathoners, but not many. Paul Tergat was 6 feet and he wasn’t too shabby. Tell us what you think as we have started a discussion thread on our messageboard: Fastest Marathoners over six feet tall (1.83m or taller).

Tegenkamp may be a little taller than ideal but he’s very talented. Tegenkamp indicated to LetsRun.com at the end of August his training is geared around 5 minute pace (2:11). If Tegenkamp doesn’t try and run 2:09, he’s not going to be a factor of note in Chicago.

This week in an interview on Flotrack (embedded on right), he seemed to be talking more confidently which is good as he said, “I think at this point I’d be disappointed with anything over 2:10. I will definitely grind as hard as I can to get that time as much under 2:10 as possible.”

We also liked how he said his desire is to be competitive, “Track and field hasn’t been fun for me the last few years. It’s really been about making teams and not about being competitive on the world level. When I started early in my career, that’s what it was all about – just trying to see how high I could place in major international events – and be in a position to go after medals if I had the opportunity.”

Tegenkamp said in the interview he hadn’t looked at the elite field yet but was hoping after the “Big 4” and Ritz, he might be able to battle ofr a top 5 spot. We like the attitude but the field is stacked and we’d be VERY surprised if he ends up in the top 5. It’s something Ritzenhein has never done.

The whole list of elites appears below. We’ll have much more after today and tomorrow’s press conferences and will eventually make our predictions on Saturday. So check back regularly.

Want even more info? Read this:  5 Takeaways From Thursday’s One-On-One Interviews, or this 2013 Chicago Marathon Women’s Preview: Which 2:22-23 Woman Will Win On Sunday? or check out the 2013 Chicago Marathon media guide.

More: From the LRC Vault: 2010: Optimal Runner Height

2013 Bank of American Chicago Marathon Elite athlete roster
(as of September 20, 2013)
Name Country Personal best Bib #
Moses Mosop KEN 2:03:06 2
Dennis Kimetto KEN 2:04:16 3
Ayele Abshero ETH 2:04:23 4
Emmanuel Mutai KEN 2:04:40 5
Sammy Kitwara KEN 2:05:54 6
Tariku Jufar ETH 2:06:51 7
Atsedu Tsegay ETH Debut 8
Dathan Ritzenhein USA 2:07:47 9
Mike Kigen KEN 2:08:24 10
Yoshinori Oda JPN 2:09:03 11
Micah Kogo KEN 2:10:27 12
Zersenay Tadese ERI 2:10:41 13
Matt Tegenkamp USA Debut 14
Merkebu Birke ETH Debut 15
Tesfaye Sendeku ETH 1:11:18 16
Michael Shelley AUS 2:11:23 17
Eliud Ngetich KEN 2:11:59 18
Kenji Higashino JPN 2:12:13 19
Hiroaki Sano JPN 2:12:14 20
Hirokatsu Kurosaki JPN 2:12:22 21
Yoshiki Otsuka JPN 2:12:51 22
Hiroki Tanaka JPN 2:13:09 23
Norihide Fujimori JPN 2:13:11 24
Sean Quigley USA 2:14:12 25
Mike Morgan USA 2:14:22 26
Mike Sayenko USA 2:14:27 27
Craig Leon USA 2:14:38 28
Luke Humphrey USA 2:14:39 29
Matt Dewald USA 2:17:42 30
Chris Pannone USA 2:18:05 31
Stephen Muturi USA 2:18:15 32
Eric Loeffler USA 2:18:36 33
Chris Siemers USA 2:18:48 34
Brandon Mull USA 2:19:21 35
Dastaho Svench ISR 2:20:07 36
Dan Kremske USA Debut 37
Jared Ward USA Debut 38
Pius Nyantika KEN 2:15:50 39
Belete Assefa ETH Pacer (Men) 44
Solomon Deksisa ETH Pacer (Men) 45
Jason Hartmann USA Pacer (Men) 46
Shadrack Kosgei KEN Pacer (Men) 47
Reuben Limaa KEN Pacer (Men) 48
Simon Ndirangu KEN Pacer (Men) 49
Chris Solinsky USA Pacer (Men) 50

Want More? Join The Supporters Club Today
Support independent journalism and get:
  • Exclusive Access to VIP Supporters Club Content
  • Bonus Podcasts Every Friday
  • Free LetsRun.com Shirt (Annual Subscribers)
  • Exclusive Discounts
  • Enhanced Message Boards