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  • Writer's pictureCarrie McDonald

Epic Clash Set For 2023 Chicago Marathon

The 2023 Chicago Marathon is anyone’s to win, and that unpredictability exemplifies what an exciting time it is for women’s long-distance running.

A stacked women’s elite field is set to race through the streets of the Windy City on October 8 in what is bound to be an epic battle between many of the world’s fastest women marathoners. A fast and flat course, Chicago has a history of being the site of many American and world records and there is no reason to suggest that this year will be any different.

Only four months away from the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials and less than a year out from Paris 2024, the field will toe the line at Grant Park with no clear favorite for the 2023 title.

The 2023 Chicago Marathon is set for Oct. 8. Photo credit to @ChiMarathon /Twitter

Last year’s champion, Ruth Chepngetich of Kenya, will return to the start line in pursuit of an unprecedented three-peat. Chepngetich, 29, won Chicago in 2021 and then flew to a new PB at last year’s race, crossing the line over four minutes ahead of the rest of the field in 2:14.18, which is now the third fastest time in history. The former half marathon world record holder has the fastest PB of the field, but she faces stellar competition eager to dethrone her from the top of the Chicago podium.

Chepngetich crossing the finish line to win the 2022 Chicago Marathon. Photo credit to @ChiMarathon /Instagram

American Emily Sisson, 31, has been in excellent form, dominating the U.S. road running scene since she ran an American record of 2:18:29 to finish second behind Chepngetich in last year’s race. Sisson's results from this year, most recently winning the USATF 20k Championships last month, suggest that she is ready to contend for a new national record and a podium finish. She faces a much stronger field this year, though, with several runners capable of challenging for podium spots. Matching her prior silver performance would be an impressive accomplishment, and even a top-five finish would be a promising result heading into the Olympic year.

Sisson broke the American Record with her second-place finish at the 2022 Chicago Marathon. Photo credit @Em_Sisson_ /Instagram

It is also always unwise to root against track legend Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands. One of the most illustrious middle-distance runners of our time, Hassan, 30, is known for attempting — and often accomplishing — feats many athletes do not even dare try. She frequently runs a high number of races each season purely out of her love of competition and has proved herself as one of the most versatile runners in history. On the track, Hassan is an Olympic and World Champion in the 10,000m, an Olympic Champion in the 5,000m, and a World Champion in the 1500m.

Hassan has the talent and the drive to make her second marathon just as memorable as her first. She made her marathon debut at the 2023 London Marathon last April, pulling off one of the most iconic comebacks in marathon history to win gold after a sprint finish. She came from behind to finish in a blistering time of 2:18:33 after a near-miss collision with a motorcycle and losing contact with the lead group when she stopped to stretch her quad. During her buildup for Chicago, in true Hassan fashion, she did not shy away from competing at the highest level in track, walking away with two medals after attempting the triple crown in the 1500m, 5000m, and 10,000m at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest this past August. These stellar results suggest she is poised to challenge Chepngetich for the top spot.

Hassan crossing the finish line to win the London 2023 Marathon. Photo credit to @LondonMarathon /Twitter

Hassan is joined by another highly-accomplished middle-distance star in Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba. The former 1500m world record holder finished second in her marathon debut at the 2022 Amsterdam Marathon with a time of ​​2:18:05, but did not finish the 2023 London Marathon. With the third-fastest PB in the field, the 32-year-old will no doubt be looking for her first World Marathon Major title and she by all means has the resume to back her up.

Like Dibaba, fellow Ethiopian Ababel Yeshaneh, 32, is expected to come out fighting for a spot on top of a World Marathon Major podium for the first time. Yeshaneh has shown that she can consistently compete with the best, winning silver at the 2019 Chicago and 2022 Boston Marathons and bronze at the 2021 New York City Marathon.

Joyciline Jepkosgei, 29, can also not be ruled out. The Kenyan has two World Marathon Major titles to her name, winning the 2019 New York City and 2021 London Marathons, and posts the second-fastest marathon PB in the field with a time of 2:17:43, behind only Chepngetich. She will be looking to reclaim her world-class form after a disappointing 12th-place finish at Boston 2023.

Emma Bates, 31, is perhaps in the best position to challenge Sisson for the top American spot. Bates’ highest World Marathon Major finish was second place at Chicago 2021, but she has consistently proved herself as one of the United States’ most promising rising stars. Bates most recently claimed the top American spot at the 2023 Boston Marathon in April with a fifth-place finish and has not been shy about chasing Sisson’s American record.

Bates after her fifth-place finish at the 2023 Boston Marathon. Photo credit to @emmajanelbates /Instagram

Bates is also joined by a contingent of other talented Americans. The Chicago Marathon will be Molly Seidel’s first marathon since April 2022. Seidel, 29, qualified to represent Team USA in Tokyo in her debut marathon race and went on to win the Olympic bronze medal, the first U.S. woman to medal in the event since Deena Kastor’s third-place finish in 2004.

Seidel has since faced several mental and physical setbacks, though, including a hip injury that forced her to drop out mid-course at the 2022 Boston Marathon. While she may not yet have regained her full form, completing this race will serve as an important step toward success at the U.S. Olympic Trials this February.

Des Linden, 40, is set to complete her first marathon in the masters category. The 2018 Boston Marathon Champion will look to challenge Sara Hall’s masters world record of 2:25:48, set at the 2023 Boston Marathon. Americans Aliphine Tuliamuk and Nell Rojas were initially slated to run, but both have since withdrawn due to injury with the hopes of rebounding at the U.S. Olympic Trials in February.


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