With just a few days to go, the city of Chicago is bracing itself for the 45,000 confirmed participants for this year's marathon. The event, which is one of the five World Marathon Majors alongside Berlin, Boston, London, and New York City, will celebrate its 34th anniversary this Sunday (October 9).
This year's race will be blighted by the absence of the 2010 winner Samuel Wanjiru, who sadly died after falling of a balcony in May. Wanjiru, who also holds the course record, defeated Ethiopian Tsegaye Kebede in a closely contested battle with a time of 2:06:24.
Evans Cheruiyot will return to the course he tasted success in 2008 and will be looking to retain his title despite strong competition from fellow Kenyans Bernard Kipyego The pair will also be joined by sub 2.06 runners Bazu Worku and winner of the Amsterdam marathon, Getu Feleke, both of Ethiopia. Ryan Hall with a PB of 2:04:58, is set to be the strongest competitor from the U.S.
Russian Liliya Shobukhova will be looking to better her second place finish in this year's London marathon as she defends the women's title. Shobukhova, who will be seeking a third straight victory in Chicago, won the 2010 race when she defeated Astede Baysa with a time of 2:20:25. Paula Radcliffe's 2002 time of 2:17:18, however, remains the course record.
The race begins at Grant Park by Lake Michigan and follows a route through the neighbourhoods of northern Chicago all the way to the South before returning to Grant Park, taking the marathoners on a colourful journey through the city.
With a relatively flat and fast course and the strong line-up in both the male and female events, there seems every chance the Chicago marathon will be bracing itself for a new course record along with the expected 45,000 strong field.