Galen Rupp & Mo Farah Are Running the 2019 Chicago Marathon; What Does This Mean For Farah’s Future on the Track?

America’s best marathoner will take on Great Britain’s best marathoner in Chicago this fall

By Jonathan Gault
May 9, 2019

Earlier today, race organizers announced that Galen Rupp and Mo Farah will square off at the 2019 Bank of America Chicago Marathon on October 13. The duel between the former training partners — who have combined to win the last two editions of the race, Rupp in 2017 and Farah in 2018 — will be the headline attraction in Chicago this fall.

It will be Rupp’s first marathon since finishing 5th in Chicago in 2:06:21 in October 2018. Less than two weeks later, Rupp underwent Achilles surgery to correct a condition called Haglund’s Deformity, which caused Rupp to miss the 2019 spring marathon season.

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Farah’s fall plans have been the subject of much speculation ever since his coach Gary Lough opened the door to a return to the track after Farah won Chicago last fall (Farah retired from the track after the 2017 season). Since then, Farah has been dropping hints that he may return to the track to defend his 10,000-meter world title in Doha in 2019.

Farah’s last track race, the 2017 DL final in Zurich, was a classic

But with Farah running Chicago, that plan just became a lot more difficult. The men’s 10,000 is on October 6, the last individual final on the schedule at this year’s World Championships, which are taking place a month later than usual. The Chicago Marathon, on October 13, is one week — and eight time zones — away from Doha.

Though elite marathoners rarely race the week before a major marathon, it is not totally unprecedented. Rupp finished 5th in the Olympic 10,000-meter final in 2016 in Rio and went on to earn bronze in the marathon eight days later. Finland’s Lasse Viren finished 5th in the Olympic marathon in 1976 in Montreal one day after earning 5,000-meter gold (counting heats in the 5,000 and 10,000, the marathon was Viren’s fifth race in nine days). Frank Shorter finished 5th in the 10,000 at the 1972 Olympics in Munich before earning marathon gold a week later. Emil Zátopek famously won the 5,000, 10,000, and marathon at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki.

The key differences between those doubles/triples and what Farah would be attempting?

1) It was the Olympics.
2) The races were in the same city.

All of which makes it seem unlikely that Farah will run the 10,000 at Worlds this year ( reached out to Farah’s agent, Rick Simms, to see whether he would run Worlds this fall; as of publication, Simms had not responded). This is a man who has already won a total of 10 Olympic/world titles on the track. Does he miss the track so badly that he’d be willing to impact his Chicago plans to run Worlds as well?

Probably not. But as defending champion, Farah has a bye into the World Championship 10,000 final, meaning he wouldn’t even have to run a qualifying time this summer. Until he definitively says he’s not running the 10,000 at Worlds, it remains on the table. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: It now seems clear that Farah won’t be running Worlds this year. In the tweet below, Farah said, “Having discussed with my team and to ensure I have the best chance of achieving this goal, my focus for 2019 will be solely on the roads.”


Three more takeaways from today’s news:

1) Running Chicago gives Rupp a chance to knock out the Olympic standard, but make no mistake — he’ll be running to win

Embed from Getty Images

When it was announced that Rupp underwent Achilles surgery last fall, he immediately ruled out running a spring 2019 marathon. The big question was whether he’d return for a fall 2019 marathon or wait to make his marathon return at the Olympic Trials in February 2020.

Obviously, Rupp opted for the former choice. Clearly, Rupp and Salazar must feel that his recovery is going pretty well if they feel he is up to competing in a marathon five months from now (and up to putting his body through three marathons in 10 months, culminating with the Olympics in August 2020).

The key part of this development: running Chicago gives Rupp a chance to knock out the 2020 Olympic standard of 2:11:30, which seems like a given considering Rupp has run faster than that in each of the six marathons he’s finished (Rupp could also get the standard by finishing in the top 10 in Chicago; that required 2:08:41 or faster last year).

That’s important, because as of now, USATF still hasn’t clarified how they’ll be selecting the 2020 Olympic team, despite multiple attempts from seeking clarification. If USATF selects the top three finishers with the standard at the Trials, it will be important for Rupp to have the standard going into the race as the hilly — and potentially hot — Trials course in Atlanta could result in a winning time over 2:11:30. Currently, Scott Fauble and Jared Ward are the only American men with the Olympic standard.

But don’t expect Rupp just to show up in Chicago and run 2:11:00. He wouldn’t sign up for a World Marathon Major without the intention of winning.

“After undergoing surgery following last year’s race, I have been pouring all of my energy into my recovery and returning strong in 2019,” Rupp told race organizers. “I look forward to being at my best again and giving it all I have in October.”

For more on Rupp’s recovery, check out the video below (with some closeups of the gnarly scar on his heel):

2) Another chance for Rupp to get in the win column against Farah

Farah and Rupp were teammates with the Nike Oregon Project for seven years, from 2011-17, but to cast this as a “rivalry” would be a disservice to Farah. The two have lined up to race each other 23 times, and Rupp has won only once: an indoor mile in 2012, when Farah fell on the first lap. In their most recent meeting, in Chicago last fall, Farah dropped Rupp at 35k en route to victory in 2:05:11; Rupp finished over a minute back in 2:06:21.

Farah, who finished 5th in London last month, has shown himself to be a world-class marathoner, and will enter Chicago favored to beat Rupp again, particularly since Farah is not coming off of injury (Farah has also broken 2:06 in each of his last two marathons, something Rupp has never done). But Rupp is a world-class marathoner himself. He’ll never race Farah enough to even their lifetime record, but he could at least cut into Farah’s lead this fall in Chicago.

Farah vs. Rupp lifetime

Distance Race Farah Rupp
5000m Aviva Gateshead 2010-07-10 13:05.66 (7) 13:10.05 (9)
3000m Aviva London 2010-08-13 7:40.75 (2) 7:43.24 (5)
5000m WK Zürich 2010-08-19 12:57.94 (5) 13:07.35 (12)
8K XC BUPA Edinburgh 2011-01-08 25:41 (1) 25:50 (2)
5000m Aviva Birmingham 2011-02-19 13:10.60 (1) 13:11.44 (2)
Half Marathon NYC New York NY 2011-03-20 60:23 (1) 60:30 (3)
5000m Aviva Birmingham 2011-07-10 13:06.14 (1) 13:06.86 (2)
5000m Herc Monaco 2011-07-22 12:53.11 (1) DNF (0)
10,000m WC Daegu 2011-08-28 27:14.07 (2) 27:26.84 (7)
5000m WC Daegu 2011-09-04 13:23.36 (1) 13:28.64 (9)
One Mile New Balance Boston MA 2012-02-04 3:57.92 (4) 3:57.10 (3)
1500m High Perf Eagle Rock CA 2012-05-18 3:34.66 (1) 3:34.75 (2)
5000m Pre Eugene OR 2012-06-02 12:56.98 (1) 12:58.90 (3)
10,000m OG London 2012-08-04 27:30.42 (1) 27:30.90 (2)
5000m OG London 2012-08-11 13:41.66 (1) 13:45.04 (7)
5000m High Perf Eagle Rock CA 2013-05-17 13:15.68 (1) DNF (0)
5000m Pre Eugene OR 2013-06-01 13:05.88 (2) 13:08.69 (6)
10,000m WC Moskva 2013-08-10 27:21.71 (1) 27:24.39 (4)
5000m WC Moskva 2013-08-16 13:26.98 (1) 13:29.87 (8)
10,000m WC Beijing 2015-08-22 27:01.13 (1) 27:08.91 (5)
5000m WC Beijing 2015-08-29 13:50.38 (1) 13:53.90 (5)
10,000m OG Rio de Janeiro 2016-08-13 27:05.17 (1) 27:08.92 (5)
Marathon Chicago Marathon 2018-10-07 2:05:11 (1) 2:06:21 (5)
Wins: 22 1

3) Jordan Hasay also will return to Chicago

This isn’t news, given that Hasay told media immediately after this year’s Boston Marathon that she’d be running Chicago in the fall and chasing Deena Kastor‘s 2:19:36 American record. Hasay missed both Boston and Chicago in 2018 after a series of stress fractures, but after a successful return in Boston last month (she finished 3rd in 2:25:20), Kastor’s American record is a difficult — but not unrealistic — target in the fall.

“I am honored to return to the streets of Chicago,” Hasay told race organizers. “I love the fast course and exciting atmosphere, which I believe can lead to an attempt at the American record. I look forward to being at my best again and giving it all I have in October.”

Talk about this on our world famous fan forum / messageboard. MB: Mo and Rupp confirmed for Chicago Marathon 2019