2019 Chicago Marathon Preview

Chicago Marathon medalCrisp air, cooler temps … it finally feels like marathon season! The Chicago Marathon is October 13 and more than 40,000 runners — including our own Angelica! — will wind through 29 Windy City neighborhoods led by some of America’s top female marathoners.

The elite women’s field features five women with PRs under 2:25, led by 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon and 2019 London Marathon champion Brigid Kosgei (2:18:20 PR/Kenya).

But the next-fastest PR in the field belongs to Jordan Hasay, who finished third at Chicago in 2017 with a 2:20:57. She’s actually finished third in all three of her marathons — including Boston 2017 and Boston 2019. She holds the American record for fastest marathon debut, but after her two 2017 marathons, she missed her next two planned marathons with repeated fractures in her left heel. Hasay ran 1:12:35 at Rock ’n Roll Philly in mid-September and posted on Instagram that she was “really excited” about the effort while in the midst of heavy mileage.

Ohhhh, you’re waiting for me to talk about the elephant in the room? An Albertophant, if you will? Jordan has trained with Alberto Salazar since 2013 as part of the Nike Oregon Project. With his four-year ban announced last week, Hasay is cut off from communicating with Salazar — which seems more likely to be a mental issue than a physical one. On social media, she seemed relatively unfazed (whatever that’s worth), posting a video the day after the ban announcement. A clip from a workout, Hasay started with a motivational quote like she does on most of her posts. “Let them judge you. Let them misunderstand you. Let them gossip about you.” The quote from Scott Stabile continues with a brief sentence about her 15x1k workout (I now know why I am not a 2:20 marathoner, YIKES, 15???). Then, she writes that Salazar has “been like a father figure” and always treated her with respect and the “highest of ethical coaching standards.” She continues: “I wish him the best moving forward as I remain committed and focused towards racing the Chicago marathon in 12 days and the Olympic Trials marathon in 2020.”

Well okay then. There you have it.

Meanwhile, 2018 Paris Marathon champion Betsy Saina is also in the field (2:22:56/Kenya) along with Mexican national record holder Madai Perez (2:22:59) and three-time Olympian Lisa Weightman (2:25:15/Australia).

But the next four-fastest women are all Americans, my friends, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see any of them make their way to the podium. Laura Thweatt (2:25:38), Emma Bates (2:28:19), Stephanie Bruce (2:29:20) and Lindsay Flanagan (2:29:25) are all Chicago-bound.

Thweatt, who trains with Emma Coburn and Aisha Praught-Leer, dropped out of Chicago last year with an Achilles injury, was diagnosed with a calcaneus stress fracture this June but says cross training and Alter-G kept her fit until she was back on the roads. She hasn’t raced much due to that, but she did PR in the road 5k in April.

You may remember Bates from her 2018 marathon national championship win at CIM — which was also her marathon debut. She hasn’t raced in the past couple of months but did PR in the half marathon with a 1:11:13 in March. A wizard at blurring interesting content with sponsor plugs, she posted on Instagram that her build to Chicago has been “smooth like butter.” Bates is a 12-time All-American and also won the 25k national championships in May 2019.

IMG 6626 Stephanie Bruce (41876945775)
Stephanie Bruce. Photo: Dave Atkinson
How much do we need to say about Bruce? We’re all following her on social, right? (If you’re not, stop reading. Go follow. We’ll wait.) Chicago will be her 11th marathon — she finished 10th at London last year and was second to Emma at CIM last year, where Bruce also PRed. This year, she earned her second national title in a personal best, 1:10:44, at the USATF Half Marathon Championships and then set a PR (15:17) in the 5,000m two weeks later.  I’m calling it: WATCH OUT FOR STEPH.

Flanagan is coming off a 1:12:48 in Philly in mid-September and has run two marathons in the 2:29-2:30 range in the past year. Ninth at Boston this spring, she set her current PR at the 2018 Frankfurt Marathon. She’s the 2015 Pan American Games marathon silver medalist and competed in the 2017 IAAF World Championships marathon.

And, Sarah Sellers, who surprised us all with her second-place finish at Boston 2018 (2:44:04), is also racing Chicago. Boston was her second marathon — she won her debut at the Huntsville Marathon in 2017 in 2:44:27. Since we all collectively asked, “WHO IS SARAH SELLERS?,” she’s gone on to drop her PR by 7.5 minutes with top-20 finishes at NYC 2018 and Boston 2019. With me? First two marathons: 2:44:27, 2:44:04, about eight months apart. Second two marathons: 2:36:37, 2:36:42, about five months apart. Marathon progression isn’t usually linear but it’d be pretty cool if it worked out. Oh yeah and she PRed in the half in July.

Also representing the USA in the women’s elite field:

  • Taylor Ward (2:32:42)
  • Maegan Krifchin (2:32:47)
  • Lauren Martin-Masterson (2:33:25)
  • Lindsay Anderson (2:34:45)
  • Julia Roman-Duval (2:36:31)
  • Kristen Heckert (2:38:54)
  • Alyssa Schneider (2:39:11)

Full elite field info here.

Oh, and don’t be surprised to see Alexi Pappas — she’s pacing the 2:29 Olympics qualifying time. Not sure how far she plans to go or who will go with her, but if I could choose anyone to be my pacer I’d pick her too!

How to spectate the race in person:

  • Check out the extensive spectator guide on the race site
  • Visit one of six information tents to get info, maps, and more
  • Use the CTA to get from point-to-point to cheer
  • Crowd support wanes in the second half of the course, other than Chinatown — make your way there to more easily spot your runner AND to provide welcome support to everyone!

How to watch the race from afar:

  • Chicagoans can watch from 7-11 a.m. CST on NBC 5 Chicago
  • Everybody else: nbcchicago.com and telemundochicago.com from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. CST; they have an app you can download to stream.

Make your predictions below!

Started running in my early 20s and ended up running my first marathon 15 months later. Managed to break 3 hours in my 12th marathon. Pilates instructor passionate about the importance of your powerhouse in running and the mind/body connection. One husband, zero kids, mama to one Australian Shepherd.

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