Past champion Tsegaye Kebede from Ethiopia has been forced out of the upcoming Bank of America Chicago Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Road Race, on 11 October due to injury.
Unlucky to miss out on selection for the 2012 Olympics, Kebede bounced back with victory in Chicago in a still-standing lifetime best of 2:04:38. Two years prior, Kebede finished second to the late Sammy Wanjiru in one of the all-time great big-city marathon races.
Despite Kebede’s absence, the elite men’s field still contains three athletes with sub-2:05 PBs: Kenyans Sammy Kitwara (2:04:28), Dickson Chumba (2:04:32) and Ethiopia’s Endeshaw Negesse (2:04:52). Kitwara and Chumba finished second and third respectively last year behind compatriot Eliud Kipchoge while Negesse won the Tokyo Marathon in February in 2:06:00.
The elite women’s field has been strengthened by the inclusion of Ethiopians Birhane Dibaba and Yebrgual Melese. After finishing third in Chicago twelve months ago, Dibaba comes fresh from claiming the biggest win of her career to date in Tokyo in 2:23:15 while Melese has been one of the in-form marathon-runners of the year with wins in Houston (2:23:23) and Prague (2:23:49) to her name.
Dibaba and Melese will join the likes of Florence Kiplagat, Mulu Seboka, Deena Kastor and Kayoko Fukushi on the start-line on Colombus Drive next month.