As head-to-heads go, this looks likely to be one of the most exciting in recent years. Mo Farah and Galen Rupp, former training partners at the Nike Oregon Project under the tutelage of Alberto Salazar, will be re-acquainted at the upcoming Chicago Marathon (Sunday 7 October) in what promises to be a compelling duel filled with numerous sub-narratives.
Farah and Rupp will be a part of a 40,000 plus strong field as the Bank of America Chicago Marathon celebrates its 41st year. Known for its flat and fast course that starts and finishes in Grant Park, the marathon offers the opportunity to travel through one of the world’s most magnificent cities and, with an estimated 1.7 million spectators dotted around the course, offers also offers one of the best-supported.
One of those likely to receive the loudest cheer is defending champion Galen Rupp. Last year, Rupp secured arguably his most impressive victory, defeating defending champion Abel Kirui and world record holder Dennis Kimetto to become the first American man to win the event since 2002. Rupp has since then gone on to win this year’s Prague Marathon (setting a PB of 2:06:07 in the process), while also running a sub 60 half in Ostia.
Like his former training partner, Farah has been enjoying a successful year and the path to road running seems to have been somewhat smoothed out. Farah looked in imperious form at the Great North Run as he sealed his fifth consecutive victory.
While Rupp boasts a faster time over 26.2 miles, Farah said he felt confident about his current condition: “I am in much better shape than last year. Training is different as a road runner. I do a lot more long runs and intervals for Chicago. In terms of endurance, I am a lot fitter.”
On the prospect of securing his first major, Farah added: “I’m happy with where I am. I just can’t wait until Chicago. The aim is to stay injury free and stay focused, and to keep doing what I’m doing. Right now, it’s definitely working. But to win a major marathon, that’s what stands out.”
Following Jordan Hasay and Amy Cragg’s recent withdrawals, the female field is looking a tad depleted: there have been, however, some re-enforcements. Florence Kiplagat is the most exciting late addition, and will join Ethiopians Roza Dereje and Birhane Dibaba, as top contenders.
There will be considerable interest in the performance of Gwen Jorgensen, who will be competing in her 'first real marathon' (she took part in the 2016 New York Marathon with very little training following her Olympic triathlon gold medal) as she prepares for Tokyo 2020.
Without doubt, Chicago Marathon stands as one of the top events in the world. Sports Tours International offer excellent packages for guaranteed entry plus accommodation—further information is available here.