Chicago Marathon 2021 Preview

The Chicago marathon takes place on Sunday 10th October. With a whole host of marathon majors taking place in the weeks around it, a weakened field means a strong chance of an American assault for top honours. Here’s our Chicago Marathon 2021 preview.

Who is in the Chicago Marathon 2021 elite field?

The men’s field is as follows (only sub 2.12 runners included):

AthleteCountryPersonal Best (where they set it)Recent Performances
Getaneh MollaEthiopia02:03:34 (Dubai, 2019)8th in the Ethiopian Olympic trials over 10,000m, 19th Tokyo Marathon 2020
Seifu TuraEthiopia02:04:29 (Milan, 2021)4th Milan Marathon, 8th in Dubai in 2020
Hassan El Abbassi Bahrain02:04:43 (Valencia, 2018)25th in the Olympic Marathon, 6th in Tokyo in 2020, 7th World Champs 2019
Shifera TamruEthiopia02:05:18 (Dubai, 2019)DNF Milan 2021, 5th Dubai, 1st in Seoul both 2019
Joel KimurerKenya02:05:19 (Milan, 2021)8th Milan 2021, 2nd in Abu Dhabi Marathon 2019
Eric KiptanuiKenya02:05:47 (Siena, 2021)Siena Marathon winner 2021, 2nd in Dubai 2020. DNF London 2020
Laban KorirKenya02:05:54 (Amsterdam, 2016)DNF Enschede 2021. 9th Barcelona 2019.
Galen RuppUSA02:06:07 (Prague, 2018)8th Olympic Marathon, 3rd in the Great North Run
Fikre BekeleEthiopia02:06:27 (Seoul, 2019)Won Frankfurt in 2019 and was fourth in Seoul that year
Masato KikuchiJapan02:07:20 (Lake Biwa, 2021)8th in Lake Biwa, 14th in Tokyo 2020.
Derlys AyalaParaguay02:10:11 (Valencia, 2020)43rd Olympic marathon
Ivan GonzalezColombia02:11:07 (Valencia, 2020)DNF Tokyo
Emmanuel Roudolff-Levisse France02:11:20 (Marathon Project, 2020)11th Marathon Project
Colin Mickow USA02:11:22 (Marathon Project, 2020)12th Marathon Project
Wilkerson Given USA02:11:44 (Chicago, 2019)18th Chicago 2019

The women’s elite field is as follows (only sub 2.30 runners included):

AthleteCountryPersonal Best (Where they set it)Notable Recent Performances
Ruth ChepngetichKenya2:17:08 (Dubai, 2019)Set the World Half Marathon Record in April (1:04:02), DNF at the Olympic Games
Sara HallUSA2:20:32 (Marathon Project, 2020)6th US Olympic Trials  10,000m, 2nd in London in 2020 (2:22:01)
Keira D’AmatoUSA2:22:56 (Marathon Project, 2020)2nd Marathon Project 2020, 2nd Trial of Miles 10,000 (32:16)
Emma BatesUSA2:25:27 (Chicago, 2019)29th US Olympic Trials 2020
Diane Nukuri USA2:27:50 (London, 2015)10 miles in September (53:23)
Lindsay FlanaganUSA2:28:08 (Chicago, 2019)22nd US Olympic Trials 10,000
Bria WetschUSA2:29:50 (Marathon Project, 2020)10 miles in September (54:38)

Who are the favourites for the 2021 Chicago Marathon men’s race?

Some very fast times gloss over some inconsistent runs in recent years for the fastest men on paper.

Getaneh Molla was an impressive winner of the Dubai Marathon in 2019 but has ran less impressively since. An eighth in the Ethiopian Olympic trials in Hengelo is no mean feat for a marathon man but his last venture over the full distance lead to a disappointing 19th place in Tokyo in March 2020. Still only 27 Molla may impress once more in what is only his third marathon. He was also the African Champion over 5000m in 2015.

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For my money one of the greatest challenges may come from the man with only the sixth fastest personal best. The Kenyan Eric Kiptanui is the man in form, fresh off the back of a win in Siena. His second place in Dubai in 2020 shows recent form is no fluke. This is his sixth marathon after two DNFs in London. Kiptanui boasts a half-marathon best of 58:42 set in Berlin in 2018 and trains with Eliud Kipchoge’s group in Kaptagat, Kenya.

Ethiopia have a man in decent form in the shape of Seifu Tura. Tura was fourth in a rapid Milan marathon earlier this year and was eighth in Dubai last year. He makes his return to Chicago two years after a sixth place in 2019 and will hope to graduate to a podium position.

A Galen Rupp special?

Hassan El Abbassi, Joel Kimrurer and Laban Korir have all ran fast times but have not shown recent form. Instead it is a race that looks tailor made for Galen Rupp. Coming off the back of an eighth place in the Olympic marathon, Rupp won in Chicago in 2017 (2.09.20). He is perhaps the athlete with the most credentials in the field and will fancy himself in most kind of races.

Who are the favourites for the 2021 Chicago Marathon Women’s Race?

Ruth Chepngetich has to start the clear favourite for the 2021 Chicago Marathon even if it is only nine weeks after pulling out from the Olympic Marathon. Prior to the August and the Antrim Half Coast Marathon, Chepngetich was the fastest female half marathoner in history. The winner in Dubai in 2019 and the World Marathon Champs in that same year she is not, however, invincible.

Sara Hall will see this Chicago Marathon as her best shot of major marathon honours at the age of 38. The American will draw on the memory of passing Chepngetich on the final straight in London last year and will seize on any sign that Chepngetich is not at her best. Should the Kenyan run a clever race there seems little chance Chepngetich will not take the title.

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The Chicago marathon women’s race seems to be centred around this battle with perhaps only Keira D’Amato another credible challenger. D’Amato has hardly raced in 2021 but ran 32:16 back in February. The Nike Runner may have to hope for a mistake from the leading two.

Chicago Marathon Course Records

Men: 2.03.45 – Dennis Kimetto (2013)

Women: 2.14.04 (WR) – Brigid Kosgei (2019)

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Featured image “2005 Chicago Marathon” by thomas_sly is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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