Props to Chicago: Galen Rupp will battle strong international field as he tries to repeat at Chicago Marathon

By Robert Johnson
August 9, 2018

Last August, when the elite international fields for the 2017 Bank of America Chicago Marathon were announced, we openly wondered if the men’s race was being set up for a Galen Rupp victory. The men’s field initially featured only two men who had ever broken 2:08 in a recognized marathon and one of them, Dennis Kimetto, hadn’t run a good marathon in over two years.

In the end, Rupp did indeed become the first American-born winner of the race in 35 years, but he had to defeat a quality field to do it. After several additions to the field, by the time race day came around, the race featured seven men who had broken 2:07 in the marathon plus Zersenay Tadese. 

Galen Rupp wins the 2017 Bank of America Chicago Marathon in a personal best 2:09:20 (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)

Galen Rupp wins the 2017 Bank of America Chicago Marathon in a personal best 2:09:20 (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)

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Well today, Chicago released its full international field for the 2018 race and I have no doubts about its quality. If Rupp is going to repeat as champion, he’s going to have to earn it as the Chicago field features five men who have broken 2:06, nine men who have broken 2:07, and 11 who have broken 2:11.

Perhaps more importantly than PRs is the fact that many of the men in the field have displayed great recent form. The race features six guys who have won a significant marathon this year: the 2018 Dubai champ, the 2018 Tokyo champ, the 2018 Rotterdam champ, the 2018 Prague champ, the 2018 Paris champ, and the 2018 Boston champ in Mosinet Geremew, Dickson Chumba, Kenneth Kipkemoi, Galen Rupp, Paul Lonyangata, and Yuki Kawauchi respectively.

Add in Geoffrey Kirui, our #1 ranked marathoner in the world for 2017, Mo Farah, only the greatest track distance runner of the last decade, a 2:04:15 guy in Birhanu Legese, and a former Chicago and world champ in Abel Kirui and you’ve got a very good men’s field.

Here is a chart of the full international elite field, plus Rupp (the rest of the U.S. men’s field hasn’t been revealed yet). Remember, research has revealed that, with one exception, since the start of 2013, every Abbott World Marathon Major men’s race had been won by a global medallist or someone with a PB of under 2:08 (94.6% had a PR under 2:07 or a global medal and 89.2% had a PR under 2:06 or a global medal). The one exception, of course, is Yuki Kawauchi at this year’s Boston Marathon, but we don’t anticipate a biblical storm in the forecast in Chicago this fall.

Name Nat. PB LRC Notes On Recent Form
Mosinet Geremew ETH 2:04:00 After finishing third in Berlin last year, the 59:11 half marathoner won Dubai in 2:04:00.
Birhanu Legese ETH 2:04:15 The 23-year-old, who has shorter pbs of 13:08 and 59:20, debuted at 2:04:15 in Dubai in January but that only got him 6th.
Dickson Chumba KEN 2:04:32 The 2015 Chicago champ comes into Chicago this year after winning Tokyo in 2:05:30 in February.
Abel Kirui KEN 2:05:04 The winner of Chicago in 2016 and runner-up last year was 4th in London in April in 2:07:07. 36 years old.
Kenneth Kipkemoi KEN 2:05:44 The 34-year-old, who has a 59:01 half pb, won Rotterdam in April in 2:05:44.
Galen Rupp USA 2:06:07 Defending Chicago champ won Prague in 2:06:07 in May after dropping out of Boston.
Paul Lonyangata KEN 2:06:10 He comes into Chicago after winning Paris in April in 2:06:25. Also won Paris in 2017 in 2:06:10 pb.
Mo Farah GBR 2:06:21 Proved he’s a legit marathoner by going out in 1:01:03 in London before finishing third.
Geoffrey Kirui KEN 2:06:27 We ranked this guy #1 in the world for 2017. He won Boston and Worlds last year and appeared to be well on his way to winning Boston again this year until fading big-time late to 2nd.
Suguru Osako JPN 2:07:19 The NOP team member was 3rd in Boston and Fukuoka last year.
Bedan Karoki KEN 2:07:41 RAK Half winner this year in 58:42 was 5th in London in 2:08:34.
Ryo Kiname JPN 2:08:08  28-year-old ran big 2-minute pb for 7th in Tokyo.
Yuki Kawauchi JPN 2:08:14 2018 Boston champ has zero chance of winning this race unless it’s 35 and raining.
Mohamed Reda MAR 2:09:18
Stephen Sambu KEN 2:11:07
Tsukasa Koyama JPN 2:11:20
Yohei Suzuki JPN 2:14:53
Taku Fujimoto JPN 2:15:30
Pardon Ndhlovu ZIM 2:16:22
Daniel Wallis NZL 2:19:24
Augustine Choge KEN Debut Choge has pbs of 1:44.86 for 800, 3:29.47 for 1500, 12:53.66 for 5000 and 59:26 for the half, causing us to start this thread:  Augustine Choge is making his marathon debut in Chicago — who is the fastest marathoner who has broken 1:45 in the 800? 
Hugh Williams AUS Debut

What about the women’s field?

The women’s international field also was released today, and it too is stronger than last year’s field. The 2017 Chicago women’s field featured just four women that had broken 2:23 in the last decade. This year’s women’s field features seven women who have done that, including four who have broken 2:21 in the last year.

Research by has revealed that you don’t win an women’s Abbott World Marathon Major unless you have already broken 2:25. Since Tokyo was added to the Abbott World Marathon Majors in 2013, there have been 37 majors, and 37 times the winner has been someone with a PB under 2:25 (with the slowest being Sarah Chepchirchir — training partner of doper Jemima Sumgong — who “amazingly” went from 2:24:12 to 2:19 at age 32). In actuality, being a sub-2:25 marathoner isn’t normally good enough as 34/37 (91.9%) of the major winners already had a marathon PR under 2:23 or had won a world championships medal either in the marathon or 10,000.

Using the sub-2:25 standard, the Chicago field features eight potential winners this year. However, Mexico’s Madai Perez hasn’t run under 2:24:44 in 12 years so we are discounting her as a potential winner, which gives us seven “potential winners” — nearly twice as many as last year when there were just four.

Name Nat. PB  LRC Notes On Recent Form
Roza Dereje ETH 2:19:17 Won Dubai in 2:19:17 in January at age 20, after winning Shanghai in November in 2:22:43. Now 21.
Birhane Dibaba ETH 2:19:51 Won Tokyo in 2:19:51 in February after finishing 2nd in Tokyo last year. 10th at Worlds.
Brigid Kosgei KEN 2:20:13 Runner-up in Chicago last year (2:20:22) and London this yr (2:20:13), also won Honolulu in December.
Jordan Hasay USA 2:20:57 Third in Boston (2:23:00) and Chicago (2:20:57) last year but hasn’t raced since March this year.
Shure Demise ETH 2:20:59 22-year-old was 2nd in Dubai (2:22:57, 2017), 5th at London WC (2:27:58, 2017), and 4th in Tokyo (2:22:07, 2018) in her last 3 marathons.
Yuka Ando JPN 2:21:36 Ran 2:21:36 for third in debut last year in Nagoya before getting 17th at Worlds. Only ran 2:27:37 in Osaka this year.
Amy Cragg USA 2:21:42 Ran 2:21:42 for third in Tokyo in January after getting bronze at Worlds in London.
Madai Perez MEX 2:22:59 38-year-old ran 2:24:44 for 4th in Chicago last year, her first sub-2:25 clocking since 2006.
Laura Thweatt USA 2:25:38 Hasn’t run a marathon since placing 6th in London last year (2:25:38) but ran a half pb of 70:17 in Australia on July 1.
Jessica Draskau Petersson DEN 2:30:07
Vianey De la Rosa MEX 2:32:01
Dayna Pidhoresky CAN 2:36:08
Hiruni Wijayaratne SRI 2:36:35
Melanie Myrand CAN 2:39:07
Chirine Njeim LBN 2:39:21
Alexi Pappas GRE Debut

Talk about the 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon on our messageboard. MB: 2018 Chicago Marathon elite fields are out and both are much improved from 2017 – Can Galen Rupp repeat?
*MB:  Augustine Choge is making his marathon debut in Chicago — who is the fastest marathoner who has broken 1:45 in the 800?

More: Press Release with quotes about 2018 elite fields
2017 Chicago Marathon Coverage

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