Wesley Korir is hoping to go one better than last year's second place finish as he prepares for the 35th Chicago marathon tomorrow (Sunday 7 October). The Kenyan has run the race every year since 2008 when he finished fourth despite not being allowed to run with the elite field because his previous times weren't considered fast enough.
45,000 runners will join him at the race, one of the five majors along with New York, Berlin, Boston, and London. Last year's marathon was won by Korir's compatriot Moses Mosop who set a new course record. The 27-year-old, however, won't be entering this year.
Korir is optimistic that, with some divine help, he can win on Sunday: "I am motivated but will also try to run my race and do the will of God. I get myself to the start line healthy and safe, and God will get me to the finish."
Ethiopian Tsegaye Kebede finished third at London marathon this year and has been tipped by many to run prominently here. Kebede admitted that the late Samuel Wanjiru, who finished ahead of him to claim victory at the marathon in 2010, had been on his mind as he trained for the event this week. Wanjiru died last year after falling from a balcony and Kebede paid tribute, saying: "When I did my training run on Thursday morning, I was thinking, he (Wanjiru) passed me right here. It was amazing."
Race director, Carey Pinkowski, believes the competition in both the men's and women's races is stronger than ever. He said: "The men's field is the deepest we've ever had in Chicago, and I think it will take a career performance to win. In the women's field, with the addition of Werknesh Kidane, you are looking at some of the most talented athletes on the planet, each of whom will be trying to figure out a way to beat Liliya Shobukhova on what has become her home course. These are going to be magnificent races to help celebrate Chicago marathon's 35th anniversary."
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.
As Americans reflect on the first presidential debate leading up to the general election, which saw Barack Obama take on Mitt Romney earlier this week, they should be in for another exciting contest on Sunday.