The Bank of America Chicago Marathon announced today that a strong field of American runners will join previously announced superstars Galen Rupp and Jordan Hasay at the front of the field in Grant Park on October 13. This year’s field includes reigning USATF marathon national champions Emma Bates and Brogan Austin, and five U.S. women with personal records (PRs) faster than 2:30 (including two of the top 10 fastest women in U.S. history).
“This year’s elite field highlights an exciting resurgence we are seeing in American distance running right now,” said Bank of America Chicago Marathon Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski. “We have a deep pool of American runners who are coming to Chicago to run fast, and we cannot wait to welcome them in the fall. We could see new American records and a lot of personal bests in October.”
With a PR of 2:20:57, Hasay leads this year’s field as the second-fastest American woman in history and the fastest to ever run the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Hasay hopes to put Deena Kastor’s long-standing American record, 2:19:36, in jeopardy. But Hasay’s primary competitor won’t be the clock alone – Amy Cragg, Emma Bates, Stephanie Bruce, Lindsay Flanagan and Taylor Ward represent a strong contingent of U.S. women all vying for podium finishes. 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. Chicago’s history could be rewritten this fall.
Cragg, a member of Nike’s Bowerman Track Club since 2015 and the winner of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon trials, enters this year’s field as the fifth-fastest American woman in history with a personal best of 2:21:42. Cragg stunned the world at the 2017 IAAF World Championships Marathon when she ended a 34-year medal drought by taking home the bronze. While she hasn’t raced much in 2019, she won the one-time Road to Gold eight-mile road race in Atlanta in March. The race allowed athletes an opportunity to run on portions of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials Marathon course.
Bates, a 12-time All-American and the 2014 NCAA 10,000m champion, is an exciting athlete to welcome to this year’s field. She broke 2:30 in her marathon debut en route to capturing her first U.S. national title, breaking the tape in 2:28:19. Since then, she has picked up another national title in the 25K (1:23:51), finished fourth at the New York Mini 10K, and set PRs in the half marathon (1:10:48) and 8K (26:03).
Bruce’s inspiring 2018 season, with a 10th-place finish at the London Marathon and her first national title in the 10K at the Peachtree Road Race, forecasted great things ahead for 2019. She capped off her 2018 season with a second-place finish and a marathon PR, 2:29:20, at the USATF Marathon Championships. She kept the momentum going with 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.
Flanagan, the 2015 Pan American Games marathon silver medalist and a native of Roselle, Illinois, comes into Chicago after finishing this spring’s Boston Marathon in ninth place in 2:30:07. She set her current PR, 2:29:25, at the 2018 Frankfurt Marathon. She represented the U.S. globally at the 2017 IAAF World Championships Marathon.
Ward, winner of the 2016 Philadelphia Marathon, has consistently performed well in Chicago, notching two top-ten finishes in 2017 and 2018. She finished ninth in 2017 in 2:35:27, and she improved her personal best last year to finish seventh in 2:32:42. She opened her 2019 season with a half marathon personal best of 1:13:27 in Houston.
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Rupp, a two-time Olympic medalist in the marathon (bronze) and 10,000m (silver) and the current holder of four American records, stands out in the men’s field as the 2017 Bank of America Chicago Marathon champion and as one of the fastest runners in U.S. history with a PR of 2:06:07. While it will be difficult to match the foot speed of someone like Rupp, several American men have the potential to run significant personal bests and place inside of the top ten. Brogan Austin, Chris Derrick, Scott Smith, Diego Estrada, Dathan Ritzenhein, Noah Droddy and Brendan Gregg are among some of the top Americans in this year’s field.
Austin closed out 2018 with a career-boosting win, a national title and a huge personal best, 2:12:38, at the California International Marathon. Prior to that breakthrough performance, he broke the course record at the Indiana Monumental Half Marathon, clocking 1:02:39. He built on his 2018 momentum by winning the Road to Gold eight-mile road race in March. The Chicago Marathon will be Austin’s third go at the marathon.
Derrick, a native of Naperville, Illinois and the 2013-2015 U.S. Cross Country champion, made his highly anticipated marathon debut in Chicago in 2017, running 2:12:50 to finish ninth. He followed up his debut performance with a ninth-place finish in 2:13:08 at the 2018 New York City Marathon. Derrick, one of the elite pacers for Nike’s Breaking2 project in 2017, is one of the most versatile runners in the field with PRs of 13:08 in the 5,000m, 27:31 in the 10,000m, and 1:01:12 in the half marathon.
Smith, a 4:01-miler, experienced a huge breakthrough in the marathon in 2017 when he posted a 2:12:21 in Frankfurt, and then he hung on to finish sixth overall at the 2018 Boston Marathon (the now infamous year where runners endured whipping winds and freezing rain). He trains with Northern Arizona Elite, and he has represented the U.S. internally in both the half marathon and marathon at the IAAF World Championships. Smith’s strongest performance came in May when he finished second at the USATF 25K national championships.
Estrada has been a favorite among Chicagoans, ever since his 2016 breakout performance in Chicago and his second-place finish at the 2017 Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle. After slipping on a bottle at the 10K mark during his Chicago debut and badly twisting his ankle, Estrada rallied to finish eighth overall (first American) in his still-standing personal best, 2:13:56. He finished 16th in 2017 and he did not race a marathon in 2018. Estrada hasn’t raced much on the roads in 2019, but his half marathon speed (1:00:51) and 2:13 PR indicate that he has the talent to be a top marathon runner heading into 2020.
Ritzenhein (“Ritz”), a three-time Olympian and the fifth-fastest American in history, enters Chicago with one of the most impressive resumes. He has broken 13 minutes in the 5,000m, run 27:22 in the 10,000m, collected four national titles, and earned a bronze medal at the 2009 IAAF World Championships Half Marathon. He set his marathon PR seven years ago in Chicago, 2:07:47. At 36 and now racing with the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project, Ritzenhein is a veteran, but his 1:01:24 half marathon earlier this year still makes him a top contender.
Droddy and Gregg both bring massive potential to this year’s field. Droddy, always a crowd favorite, ran his personal best, 2:16:26, in Chicago in 2017, but his half marathon best, 1:01:48, suggests that there is room to demolish his PR this fall. Gregg made his debut in Chicago in 2014 in 2:18:30, and he experienced his best performance in 2018 at the California International Marathon, running 2:13:27.
This year’s field also includes 25K American record-holder, Parker Stinson, and exciting debuts from Reed Fischer and Justin Gallegos. In 2018, Gallegos became the first professional athlete with cerebral palsy to sign a contract with Nike.
“The Chicago Marathon is MY U.S. major. It’s the U.S. major of the people of the Midwest, and it’s the U.S. major that I love and look to race every year... Having grown up in Kansas, this is as close to home as it gets. To race in Chicago means I am racing for my roots, my family, and where my love for this sport began. The city of Chicago comes to life around this spectacular event, and I feel proud that my craft has created such great celebrations. I feel proud to race on these streets with my fellows athletes.” – Amy Cragg
"Women's distance running is so strong in this country and I know that it's going to be tough to make the team in 2020, but I'm going to be ready. I am eager to apply the knowledge I gained during my debut to running in Chicago this fall. I am really enjoying my training right now, and the past few months have been consistently good. I cannot wait to experience the energy in Chicago on October 13."– Emma Bates
“I’ve been wanting to race the Chicago Marathon my whole career, and 2019 is finally the year. I’m looking to keep the momentum of U.S. marathoning rolling and compete for a top-five finish on race day.” – Stephanie Bruce
"I’m thrilled to return to the place where my running career began for the 2019 Chicago Marathon. It will be incredibly special to toe the line in my home city, surrounded by so many familiar faces.” – Lindsay Flanagan
“The Chicago Marathon has a special place in my heart, is a world-class race, and has the most amazing crowds. I’m beyond honored and excited to be returning this year and look forward to building on my performance from last year!” – Taylor Ward
“I am very excited to debut in my first Abbott World Marathon Major at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon! I've grown up watching all of the marathon greats compete in the ‘Windy City’ and couldn't be more ecstatic to be a part of the tradition. Training has been going really well in my buildup, which makes me eager to contend for a top finish while on my journey toward Tokyo 2020. I’ll be on the lookout for homemade signs on the course with post-race deep dish suggestions!” – Brogan Austin
"Returning to the area where I grew up and became a runner is always special to me. Fifteen years ago, I ran my first mile time trial with Neuqua Valley High School in 6:03. In October, I'll try to run 26.2 miles at sub-5 minute pace. I always try not to take the improbability of that journey for granted, and there's no better way to remember where I came from than coming back to where it all started." – Chris Derrick
"I am excited to be coming back to the Bank of America Chicago Marathon for the third time to compete against a world-class field. Chicago feels like a second home to me, and I chose to come back to continue proving myself as a marathon runner. My long-term focus is on 2020, but my focus right now is on getting a PR this fall and seeing how fast I can go. Chicago is the best place to do that."– Diego Estrada
"I'm thrilled to be coming back this year for the 2019 Bank of America Chicago Marathon. I set my PR here in 2012 and returned in 2013 with a top-five finish. I know this is the place to run fast, and it will be an important step back for me to try and qualify for my fourth Olympic team. Familiarity with this race is important, so I look forward to being on the course to guide my protégé Parker Stinson as he continues to learn how to be a world-class marathoner.” – Dathan Ritzenhein
“Growing up in the Midwest, the Chicago Marathon feels like home, and I’m happy to be back for my second crack at it. Every day in training, I’m looking forward to the fast course and energetic crowd — I’m hoping that winning combination will help me be competitive in a stellar field of athletes and take a good chunk off of my personal best.”– Noah Droddy
“I have been to Chicago a couple times to visit as well as pace the marathon. I loved the event and the community support. I’m thrilled to return to the hopefully not too Windy City to complete competing in all three domestic majors.” – Scott Smith
In its 42nd year on Sunday, October 13, 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 $338 million in annual economic impact to its host city. The 2019 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 13. In advance of the race, a two-day Abbott Health & Fitness Expo will be held at McCormick Place Convention Center on Friday, October 11, and Saturday, October 12. For more information about the event and how to get involved, go to chicagomarathon.com.
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Alex Sawyer, Bank of America Chicago Marathon
Diane Wagner, Bank of America