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July 20, 2017

Breaking down the Chicago Marathon U.S. field

The summer track season is just reaching its peak, but we’re already getting a sneak peak of fall marathons, including the American fields for the Chicago Marathon released today.

Headlining the race will be the Oregon Project duo of Galen Rupp and Jordan Hasay. Both are coming off stellar finishes this spring in Boston (Rupp was second, Hasay third) and will be racing the famed World Marathon Major in the Windy City for the first time.

Can Rupp be the first American winner since 2002?

For Rupp, an attempt at a track season didn’t fare so well, as he finished just fifth in the 10,000 meters at the U.S. Championships to break his streak of eight consecutive U.S. titles at the distance. It’s clear he’s now a full-time marathoner, which should provide American distance fans a strong hope for a victory each time he toes the line at a major marathon.

Rupp has fared well in non-rabbited marathons, having finished on the podium both at the Rio Olympics and Boston without pacers. Even though we don’t know the full international field yet, there seems like a good chance we could have the first American winner in Chicago since Khadlid Khannouchi in 2002.

Hasay: Was Boston a fluke?

Hasay has come back slower from Boston, racing just once on the track (15:45.84 for 5k) and once on the roads (third at Peachtree). She was on such an amazing roll over the spring – running two blistering half-marathons times of 68:40 and 67:55 in addition to her Boston performance  –  that it could prove challenging to reach those levels again.

Breaking down a debutant, a 60-year-old legend and Citwits

Also in the men’s field will be veteran U.S. marathoners like Luke Puskedra, Jeffrey Eggleston and Aaron Braun, but I’m most intrigued by one of the debutants – Chris Derrick.

The last few years have been challenging for Derrick, who due to a series of injuries has not been his best on the track, so a pivot the marathon might just be what Derrick needs at this time.

In many ways, his skill set makes a lot of sense for 26.2 miles. Derrick has always been a great cross country runner (four NCAA top ten finishes, three U.S. cross country titles), which comes with a set of characteristics and a certain grittiness needed to navigate adversity and difficult terrain that has often translated to the marathon distance. Plus, he doesn’t have the greatest leg speed, which hurt him at the end of several NCAA championship races back during his days at Stanford.

Also returning to Chicago will be the timeless legend, Joan Benoit Samuelson. The 1985 Chicago champ will be attempting a feat never before done – a woman running a sub-three hour marathon at age 60. For reference, the current record is 3:01:30. She was slated to run last year’s race but withdrew due to illness.

Two last shout outs to give. Firstly, Citius Mag contributor, author and overall amazing person Becky Wade will be looking to better her personal best of 2:30:41 set in her debut at the 2013 California International Marathon. Secondly, renowned Citwit Noah Droddy will be making his marathon debut in Chicago. If Noah breaks 2:12, I’ll buy him 26.2 pairs of blue jeans.

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