5 Things You Need to Know Before The 2022 Chicago Marathon

By Jonathan Gault
October 6, 2022

The 2022 Bank of America Chicago Marathon will be held Sunday and the big stories from a US perspective are the debut of two-time NCAA XC champion Conner Mantz and the return of American half marathon record holder Emily Sisson. Each of those are such a big deal that we’ve written separate stories on them (Mantz here, Sisson here).

But they aren’t the only storylines to watch in Chicago. For starters, neither is likely to win the race. Below, a look at five more things to watch on Sunday, starting with the woman at the top of the elite field.

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What: 2022 Bank of America Chicago Marathon
When: Sunday, October 9, 8:30 a.m. ET
Where: Chicago, Illinois
How to watch: You can stream the race live on Peacock beginning at 8 a.m. ET on Sunday or for free on NBCChicago.com. NBC5 will also broadcast the race on TV in the Chicago area.

*Full elite field

1) Can Ruth Chepngetich stay hot?

Bank of America Chicago Marathon/Kevin Morris

In 2022, women’s elite marathoning has turned into an elaborate game of can-you-top-this? Brigid Kosgei runs a course record of 2:16:02 in Tokyo on March 6 and Ruth Chepngetich answers with a course record of 2:17:18 in Nagoya a week later that netted her $250,000. Tigist Assefa runs 2:15:37 to win Berlin only for Yalemzerf Yehualaw to respond by becoming the first woman in history to break 2:18 twice in one year, winning London in 2:17:26. All the while, Peres Jepchirchir has won the Olympics, New York, and Boston in her last three marathons.

Chepngetich will get her turn again on Sunday, where she’ll start as the favorite to win her second straight Chicago Marathon. The 28-year-old Kenyan is unquestionably one of the sport’s top talents. Last year, she ran a (since-broken) world record of 64:02 in the half marathon in Istanbul. And she’s never finished off the podium in eight career marathon finishes, winning six with one second and one third. That includes a 2:17:08 in Dubai and a world title in 2019, plus that 2:17:18 in Nagoya earlier this year.

Only one other woman in Chicago has broken 2:20 in their career: Ethiopia’s Ruti Aga (2:18:34 pb, 2019 Tokyo champ), though it’s been three years since Aga’s last podium finish (2019 New York).

If Chepngetich runs her best race, she’s not losing on Sunday. The biggest thing stopping her is herself: she’s dropped out of two of her last four marathons, the first at the 2021 Olympics and the second at this year’s Worlds in Oregon. The good news for Chepngetich is she bounced back from her Olympic disappointment last year with a win in Chicago. She’ll look to do the same in 2022.

2) Who wins a wide-open men’s race?

Roughly a dozen guys who will head to the start line on Sunday with dreams of winning the men’s race. Ten men in the field have pbs between 2:03:40 and 2:05:47, including a pair of major champions in Benson Kipruto (2021 Boston) and Seifu Tura (2021 Chicago). None of the men in the field would qualify as a marathon superstar, but that could change if Kipruto or Tura can win a second major on Sunday. Below, a quick guide to some of the top men in the field.

Benson Kipruto, 31 years old, Kenya, 2:05:13 pb (2019 Toronto)

Kipruto used a sick 14:05 5k split from from 35k to 40k to win Boston last year, and he backed that up with a 3rd-place showing in Boston in April in a very respectable 2:07:27. Kipruto is part of the the same training group as newly-crowned London champ Amos Kipruto, and his coach Claudio Berardelli is expecting good things in Chicago. His brother, Dickson Chumba, is also a former Chicago champ.

Tura winning Chicago last year
© 2021 Bank of America Chicago Marathon/Kevin Morris

Seifu Tura, 25 years old, Ethiopia, 2:04:29 pb (2021 Milan)

Tura will be looking to become the first man to repeat in Chicago since the great Sammy Wanjiru in 2009-10. So far his results in 2022 have all been pretty good: a fast 58:36 half marathon pb (#2 in Ethiopian history) in February, followed by a runner-up finish in Paris and a 6th-place finish at Worlds.

Eric Kiptanui, 32 years old, Kenya, 2:05:47 pb (2021 Tuscany)

Kiptanui won a competitive Tuscany Marathon last year in a pb of 2:05:47 and has had solid outings in his last two races, taking 3rd in Chicago last year and 5th in Boston this spring. He also owns an impressive half marathon pb of 58:42.

Stephen Kissa, 26 years old, Uganda, 2:04:48 pb (2022 Hamburg)

No Ugandan has ever won a World Marathon Major, though Stephen Kiprotich did win the Olympic and world titles in 2012 and 2013. Kissa could be the first. A longtime training partner of Joshua Cheptegei, Kissa has run 13:10 and 27:26 on the track (hey, those are almost identical to Conner Mantz’ pbs!) and has impressed as the distance increases, running 58:56 for the half in 2020 and 2:04:48 in his debut earlier this year in Hamburg.

Herpasa Negasa, 29 years old, Ethiopia, 2:03:40 pb (2019 Dubai)

Negasa is the only man in the field to have run under 2:04, but he’s more than three years removed from that run at 2019 Dubai. He did little in 2020 or 2021, racing just once (10th in Valencia) but showed signs of life earlier this year by finishing 2nd in Seoul in 2:04:49.

Elisha Rotich, 32 years old, Kenya, 2:04:21 pb (2021 Paris)

Rotich is a grinder. He started his marathon career 11 years ago by running 2:15:18 at the Kassel Marathon in Germany but gradually whittled away at his pb and last year, in his 16th marathon, ran 2:04:21 to break Kenenisa Bekele‘s course record in Paris. Chicago will be his World Marathon Major debut.

Jemal Yimer, 26 years old, Ethiopia, 2:08:58 pb (2022 Boston)

A star on the track (26:54 pb, 5th in 10k at ’17 Worlds) and the Ethiopian record holder in the marathon (58:33), Yimer debuted with a 3rd-place finish in Boston last fall but was only 8th in Boston earlier this year. Chicago will be his first flat marathon, so if nothing else, he’ll have the chance to lower his pb significantly.

3) Keep an eye on Ethiopia’s Haven Hailu

If you’re looking for someone who could win the women’s race if Chepngetich is off her game, Ethiopia’s Haven Hailu is an intriguing prospect. Only 24 years old, Hailu trains under coach Tessema Abshero in Ethiopia’s top marathon group alongside women like Yalemzerf Yehualaw and Degitu Azimeraw (2:17:58) and her last two marathons have been impressive: a 2:20:19 pb in Amsterdam last fall and a commanding 2:22:01 victory in Rotterdam in April.

4) Will one of the US men pop?

There’s a significant dropoff after Conner Mantz in the US elite field, but there are a number of guys who have flashed potential and may be able to reach a new level in Chicago. The B.A.A.’s Matt McDonald, who was 10th at the Olympic Trials and is coming off a 2:10:35 pb in Boston, is the top-seeded American in terms of personal bests. Frank Lara of Roots Running debuted with a solid 2:11:32 in Houston but his 61:00 half marathon pb suggests he’s capable of faster. Likewise, Nico Montanez, this year’s US 15K champion and a 61:13 half marathoner, should probably have a faster pb than 2:13:55 through six career marathons…could Chicago be the race where everything finally clicks? Reid Buchanan (27:52/61:45/2:11:38) and Clayton Young (61:18 half) should be in the mix with this group too.

I’ll also mention Patrick Tiernan here. Though he’s not American, Tiernan was the 2016 NCAA XC champ at Villanova and has been based in the US for some time, now running for Puma Elite in North Carolina. His pbs of 27:22 and 60:55 put him #2 in the 10,000 and half marathon among all Australians and are very similar to Mantz’s pbs, so perhaps Mantz will have some company if he goes out at 64:00 pace.

5) What will we see from the American women not named Emily Sisson?

Embed from Getty Images

With Keira D’Amato running Berlin, Molly Seidel temporarily sidelined, and most of the rest of the top US women running New York next month, there isn’t a ton of depth in the US women’s field in Chicago behind Sisson. Laura Thweatt, 5th at the Olympic Trials, and 8th in New York last year, is reliable but unlikely to challenge for top American barring a disaster by Sisson. Susanna Sullivan, who won the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler in the spring, clocked a 2:26:56 pb at Grandma’s Marathon in June and has a shot to go even faster on Sunday. And Sara Vaughn, the 36-year old mother of 4 who is a converted 1500 runner who debuted with a 2:26:53 win at CIM last year, will tackle marathon #3 after running 2:36:27 in Boston earlier this year.

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