Sifan Hassan, Emily Sisson and Ruth Chepngetich to Run 2023 Chicago Marathon

This morning the Bank of America Chicago Marathon announced the first three names for the professional field for this year’s race, and they are all major stars: two-time defending champion Ruth Chepngetich of Kenya (2:14:18 pb, #2 all-time), London Marathon champion Sifan Hassan, and Emily Sisson, who set an American record of 2:18:29 in Chicago last year. The race will be held on October 8.

The rest of the field will be unveiled in the coming weeks and months, and both Chepngetich and Sisson are hoping to run fast. Chepngetich, who missed the world record by 14 seconds in last year’s race, told race organizers, “I am planning to defend my title and improve my time.” Sisson, who lowered her own American record in the half marathon to 66:52 in Houston in January, will be looking to run a pb in her final marathon before the US Olympic Marathon Trials on February 3 in Orlando.

Three quick takes on today’s announcement:

Quick Take: This will be a different kind of test for Sifan Hassan — but she’s always up for a challenge

Considering what Sifan Hassan has already accomplished in her career, it would be foolish to write her off in this race.

Article continues below player.
Kevin Morris photo

There are only six weeks between the World Championships (which end on August 27) and Chicago, and Hassan is planning on running both (she has yet to announce which track events she will contest in Budapest). But that’s not the biggest issue for Hassan.

Ahead of London, Hassan did not train like a full-time marathoner, preserving some of the workouts that carried her to Olympic gold in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters. She also did her final month of training while fasting for Ramadan. Six weeks is a tight turnaround, but if Hassan is in great 5k/10k shape by August, she should still be able to run a good marathon in October despite limited prep.

“At the moment, my focus is on the World Championships in Budapest, so my marathon preparation will be very short, but as most people know, I like to be challenged,” Hassan told race organizers. “I will see how my body responds and how my mind handles it. The good thing is that I have the experience from London so I’m looking forward to Chicago, to see what the marathon can teach me this time.”

The problem for Hassan is that Chicago could be a very different race than the one she won in London in April. In London, while Hassan defeated one of the greatest women’s marathon fields ever assembled, the winning time of 2:18:33 was on the slow side (since 2016, there has only been one slower winning time in London, Brigid Kosgei‘s 2:18:58, and that came in a downpour in 2020 on a different course) and it was stunning how slow the final miles were – 5:39 for the 25th mile and 5:56 for mile 26.

Last year’s Chicago Marathon was a very different race, with Chepngetich going out in 65:44 and holding on to run 2:14:18, the #2 time in history. A 2:18:33 winning time is more suited to a track runner short on marathon-specific training; a 2:14:18 winning time is a pure test of marathon fitness. If Chepngetich is in similar shape to last year, expect her to push the pace again (perhaps not quite so aggressively this time) and see how Hassan handles an all-out 26.2 miles. In that situation, there may not be much Hassan can do — Chepngetich would have broken the WR last year with better pacing (which has been an issue for her) and if she runs 2:13 in October, she’s probably not losing to anyone.

Of course, this is all hypothetical right now. Maybe Chepngetich picks up an injury or isn’t quite as strong as last year (she ran 2:18:08 to win her most recent marathon, Nagoya, in March). Or maybe the weather is warm like it was in 2021, when Chepngetich went out in 67:34 but staggered home in 74:57 to win in 2:22:31 on a day where temps hit the 70s and the dew point was 63. There are plenty of scenarios where Hassan wins this race, but a world record attempt in perfect conditions probably is not one of them.

Quick Take: It’s (only a little) curious Hassan isn’t running New York

It’s not uncommon to see athletes run the Olympics or Worlds and then come to New York to run a marathon, and had Hassan chosen to do that, she would have had an extra four weeks to prepare compared to Chicago (10 vs 6). Plus as an unrabbited race, it’s much easier to stay in the lead pack in New York.

But at this point it’s be shocked by anything Hassan does. Maybe she wanted a chance to lower her pb — something that would be much easier on Chicago’s flat course – or maybe she doesn’t want to run a hilly marathon.

Hassan actually said the short gap is actually one of the things that appealed to her about Chicago. She often speaks about loving to challenge herself, and training for a marathon in six weeks is a bigger challenge than training for one in 10.

“That’s why I chose it,” Hassan said in a video produced by her agency, Global Sports Communication. “Because it’s going to be very difficult…I want to see in a shorter time, what is going to happen with the lack of kilometers, just want to see what is going to happen. Because Chicago for me is very short [gap] to the track.”

Quick Take: American record watch again for Emily Sisson, and expect a number of Americans to join her

Emily Sisson 2:18:29 American Marathon Record Kevin Morris photo

Sisson ran a terrific race in Chicago last year to smash Keira D’Amato‘s nine-month-old American record by 43 seconds. Though an injury caused her to withdraw from April’s London Marathon, Sisson returned by running 31:16 at the New York Mini 10K on June 10 and it’s certainly possible she could lower her AR of 2:18:29 in October.

But she may not be alone. Because of the relatively tight gap between New York and the Olympic Trials (13 weeks), most top Americans running a fall marathon are probably going to opt for Chicago. Emma Bates, who just ran a terrific 2:22:10 to finish 5th in Boston in April, has hinted she will be targeting the AR this fall, and she’s not going to get it in NYC (Bates has not been announced for any fall major yet).

While it’s nice to see Americans try to run fast, it’s also going to be fun if we can get a Trials preview in Chicago four months out from the big day in Orlando.

Talk about 2023 Chicaog on our world-famous fan forum / messageboard.

MB: Sifan Hassan to run Chicago Marathon.

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