The Bank of America Chicago Marathon announced today that defending champion Galen Rupp and American superstars Jordan Hasay, Amy Cragg and Laura Thweatt will be joined by a strong field of American runners at the 41st annual Bank of America Chicago Marathon. They will also go head-to-head with a mighty contingent of international athletes led by Mo Farah, past champions Abel Kirui and Dickson Chumba, 2017 runner-up Brigid Kosgei, and two-time third-place finisher and sub-2:20 runner Birhane Dibaba.
“We are thrilled with this year’s overall elite field,” said Bank of America Chicago Marathon Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski. “There is an incredible amount of talent and momentum on the American women’s side, and Rupp is leading a resurgence on the men’s side. These athletes are going to put on quite a show in October, and they are going to keep alive Chicago’s legacy of supporting and showcasing top U.S. athletes.”
Elkanah Kibet surprised race commentators during his marathon debut at the 2015 Bank of America Chicago Marathon when he bolted to the front of the elite field with 22 miles to go and put a 15-second gap on the field. The chase pack caught him at mile nine, and many suspected that Kibet’s bold move would spell disaster in the later stages of the race. But Kibet never relented – he held on to finish seventh overall with his PR of 2:11:31. He returned to Chicago in 2016 to finish 10th, and he represented the U.S. at the 2017 IAAF World Marathon Championships, finishing 16th. He started his 2018 marathon campaign with an eighth-place finish at this year’s historic Boston Marathon – a race that saw many elite runners drop out due to cold temperatures, whipping winds and rain.
Tyler McCandless had a breakthrough at the 2017 USATF Marathon Championships (hosted by the California International Marathon), chopping three minutes from his personal best to place second in 2:12:28. McCandless, an All-American in the 10,000 meters at Penn State, has steadily improved since he embarked on his professional running career more than 10 years ago. He has qualified for three Olympic trials in the marathon (including 2020), and, unlike many elite runners, he balances his training with a demanding corporate career. McCandless holds a Ph.D. in meteorology. Most recently, he won the popular Bolder Boulder citizen’s race.
Aaron Braun was a self-professed “mediocre” high school runner with modest PRs, but he emerged as a 16-time All-American with six national titles at Division II Adams State. Today, Braun stands out as one of the most versatile American runners from 5,000 meter to the marathon, boasting PRs of 13:20.25 for 5,000 meters; 27:41.54 for 10,000 meters; 1:01:38 for the half marathon; and 2:12:54 for the marathon. He competed in his first Bank of America Chicago Marathon last fall, stealing the show early on as he led a pack of over 20 men through the early miles. Braun finished 12th in 2:13:41. His 2018 season has included a third-place finish at the Bay to Breakers 12K and a fifth-place finish at the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon.
Kiya Dandena, like McCandless, took a significant step forward in his career last December at the USATF Marathon Championships, running an 11-minute PR to finish third in 2:12:56. He competed in the 2016 Bank of America Chicago Marathon; after hitting 2:14 pace at the half, he fell apart and struggled home to finish 23rd in 2:22:14. Dandena recovered by experiencing a banner year in 2017, setting PRs in every distance from the 10K to the marathon, including a new half marathon PR, 1:03:13.
Andrew Bumbalough, a member of Nike’s Bowerman Track Club, is back in Chicago after racing well in 2017. In just his second go at the 42K distance, he finished 13th overall. This spring, he endured arguably the most brutal conditions in Boston Marathon history to prove not only his physical fitness, but also his mental toughness – he was rewarded with a fifth-place finish. He set his PR during his marathon debut at the 2017 Tokyo Marathon, running a steady and controlled pace to finish in 2:13:58. Following Tokyo, he took part in the Nike Breaking2 project as a pacer. Prior to moving to the marathon, he qualified for the 2012 Olympic trials in the 5,000 meters and he was the U.S. 5K national champion in 2013.
Parker Stinson – a nine-time All-American, a three-time U.S. junior 10,000 meter champion and a junior Pan American Games 10,000 meter champion – made his marathon debut last year at the USATF Marathon Championships. While the results tell one story about how the race ended, anyone who watched the race unfold saw something else. Stinson may have finished 31st in 2:18:07, but he hit mile 22 on a 2:09 pace; at that point, he was running inside of an arena where few Americans have ventured. But proving that elite athletes are mere mortals, he struggled with cramps and side stitches and had to stop several times over the final four miles. After the race, he said, “I wasn't on a suicide mission, but I expected to die a little bit out there. I felt good…until I didn’t.” Stinson’s pure guts running style supplies an element of excitement to this year’s American field. Stinson holds a 1:02:38 PR in the half marathon (run in May at the USATF Half Marathon Championships where he lost by one second) and a 27:54 PR in the 10,000 meter.
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Gwen Jorgensen joins one of the deepest American women’s fields in the history of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Hasay currently ranks second on the list of all-time American marathoners with her 2:20:57 run at last year’s Chicago Marathon. Her time was the fastest American time ever run on U.S. soil. Cragg moved up to the fifth spot in U.S. history earlier this year with her 2:21:42 performance in Tokyo, and Thweatt claimed the ninth spot in London last year after she finished in 2:25:38. The last time three American women finished in the top five in Chicago was 1994, and the last time U.S. women claimed the top two spots was 1992. That could all change in 2018.
Jorgensen’s potential in the marathon remains unknown. She debuted at the New York City Marathon just nine weeks after she won gold in Rio in the triathlon. Given her lack of marathon-specific training, she impressed with a 14th-place finish and 2:41:01 time. Jorgensen grew into a legend as a triathlete: in addition to her gold medal (the only Olympic gold in the triathlon in U.S. history), she also won two world titles and an unprecedented 17 ITU World Triathlon Series races. She took most of 2017 off to welcome her first child, and since making the leap into a full-time professional running career, she won the 2018 Stanford Invitational 10,000 meters in 31:55, she finished fifth in the Peachtree road race, she finished seventh in the 10,000 meters at the USATF championships, and she finished fourth in her half marathon debut at the U.S. Half Marathon Championships in 1:10:58. Jorgensen trains with Cragg and Shalane Flanagan as part of Nike’s Bowerman Track Club.
Sarah Crouch made a name for herself at the 2014 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. She cut almost 12 minutes off of her previous PR and placed seventh in a personal best of 2:32:44. Since then, she has returned to Chicago three times. She enjoyed another strong performance in 2015, finishing 12th in 2:32:51; she finished ninth in 2016 in 2:33:48; and she finished 13th last fall in 2:38:27. Crouch started 2018 with a seventh-place finish at the Houston Marathon in 2:35:22, and then she experienced a significant stride forward in June at the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon. She finished second in a personal best of 1:11:31. It was her first PR over any distance in four years. She later wrote on Instagram: “I took the first mile out in 5:17 and never looked back, pushing as hard as I could for as long as I could…at the press conference, I really put myself out there, looking into the cameras and reporters and saying, ‘I’m stupid fit. If I don’t PR tomorrow, it will be because I didn’t step up.’”
Taylor Ward ran strong at the 2017 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, finishing ninth in a personal best of 2:35:27. She is a two-time Olympic trials qualifier in the marathon (2016, 2020), and she is the 2016 Philadelphia Marathon champion. One of Ward’s biggest confidence boosters happened this winter when she subtracted 40 seconds from her half marathon PR to win the Carlsbad Half marathon in 1:13:50.
Kristen Heckert, with a personal best of 2:38:54, is Chicago’s very own elite athlete, and she has been loyal to her hometown race. She ran her debut at the 2011 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, finishing in 2:51:04. She has returned every year since (with the exception of 2015) to better her PR. In 2016, she finished 27th at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials and followed that performance with a second-place showing at the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8K. Now running for the Second City Track Club, she will compete in her seventh Chicago Marathon. Outside of running, she teaches math and coaches cross country at Plainfield South High School.
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In its 41st year on Sunday, October 7, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon welcomes thousands of runners from more than 100 countries and all 50 states, including a world-class elite field, top regional and Masters runners, race veterans, debut marathoners and charity runners. The race’s iconic course takes runners through 29 vibrant neighborhoods on an architectural and cultural tour of Chicago. Annually, an estimated 1.7 million spectators line the streets cheering on more than 40,000 runners from the start line to the final stretch down Columbus Drive. As a result of the race’s national and international draw, the Chicago Marathon assists in raising millions of dollars for a variety of charitable causes while generating $282 million in annual economic impact to its host city. The 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon, a member of the Abbott World Marathon Majors, will start and finish in Grant Park beginning at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, October 7. In advance of the race, a two-day Abbott Health & Fitness Expo will be held at McCormick Place Convention Center on Friday, October 5, and Saturday, October 6. For more information about the event and how to get involved, go to chicagomarathon.com.
Reporters May Contact:
Alex Sawyer, Bank of America Chicago Marathon
Diane Wagner, Bank of America