There’s nothing quite like the celebrations that accompany hitting the big 4-0 and Chicago plans to do it in style this Sunday (8 October) when it realises this marathon milestone. The event is gearing up to mark the remarkable trajectory that has seen its field rise from just over 4,000 in 1977 to what will be, for this World Marathon Major, a turnout of 45,000 on Sunday.
In store for Sunday’s field will be a fast course that offers a whirlwind tour of Chicago, weaving through the 29 neighbourhoods of the city. The race starts and finishes in Grant Park, first heading north through the Loop, River North, Lincoln Park and Lakeview, then west past Greektown, the United Center and UIC before heading south through Chinatown, Bridgeport and the South Loop.
Looking to inscribe their name into the history books at the anniversary race will be Kenyan runner Stanley Biwott, who, with a PB of 2:03:51, is the 7th fastest man in history over 26.2 miles. Biwott is likely to face competition from Ethiopian runner Feyisa Lilesa (2:04:52 PB) and Kenyan Ezekiel Chebii (2:06:07), while Brigid Kosgei (2:24:54) and Maegan Krifchin (2:33:30) are, on paper, the front-runners in the female field.
The home crowd will no doubt be buoyed by the participation of two-time Olympic medalist Galen Rupp and American debut record holder Jordan Hasay. Rupp looked comfortable during his recent outing at the Philadelphia Rock n Roll Half, finishing first in 1:02:18, while Hasay took first at the USATF 20k championships (where Rupp also competed and won).
Taking into consideration Rupp and Hasay’s form during Spetember, there is hope that the Americans could both manage a podium place, a feat that hasn’t occurred since 1996 and would be a fitting way to sign off the 40th anniversary celebrations on Sunday.
There will be a strong British contingent competing on Sunday, with Chicago, as a city that offers a host of sightseeing options, including Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower), the Ferris Wheel and Navy Pier, featuring on the ‘must-do’ list for many. Sports Tours International offer enticing packages for memorable trips to the Windy City, and have already started a waiting list for the 2018 event – you can sign up here.