2016 Bank of America Chicago Marathon
So, the second of the fall majors is upon us. Full disclosure I was not happy they took out the rabbits from this race. We have NYC for a tactical fall marathon and Boston in the spring. Chicago was way more exciting when you had E. Mutai and Kimetto both going sub 2:04 in an epic battle in comparison to a sluggish race like last year. But I guess they want to save some money and make it so more Americans can be competitive until the last move is made (Like Puskedra last year in it all the way until 40k).
With that said, looking at the men's start list and what the major players have done this year I expect we will see a mid to high 2:08 race with a strong move coming around 35k. There are 4 major studs in the field and 3 of them have run fast marathons before. Dickson Chumba should be considered the favorite going into this followed by the always consistent Tsegaye Kebede, now Kebede hasn't really shown the magic as of late but this guy has run about as many sub 2:10 marathons single handedly as every american ever combined. He's a beast over 26.2 so look for him to wait it out, hope for a couple people to expose themselves early and then close hard. Then you have veteran Abel Kirui, 2012 Olympic silver medalist coached by the famed Canova. He really hadn't done a whole lot since 2012 until this year where he came back with a solid 2:08 in Tokyo as well as a decent 46 minute 10 miler. If he's found his 2012 form he can be in the mix for sure. The last big guy I'd keep an eye out for is Micha Kogo, this is a guy who really hasn't figured out the marathon yet. He's run 2:06 on Chicago before but he's a complete stud over the shorter stuff. The guy has broken 27 minutes on the road for 10k. Run 26:35 for 10000m and 59 flat for 13.1. He's been average this year running 62 minutes at the always fast RAK half marathon and 2:08 flat in Paris. If he knocks one out of the park he could win the race, or he could blow up and go over 2:10. He's hard to judge but has all the tools to win.
Now, the one X-Factor is the debut of former Arizona state standout and sub 27 minute man Stephen Sambu. This guy is an assassin on the roads. He trains with Coach James Li in Arizona with the likes of Lalang, Lagat, Chelanga, Abdi et al. Since going pro he's been utterly dominant on the roads from 5k to the half marathon so there's no reason to suspect he won't excel over 26.2, he may be the guy to put your money on.
As for the American field, Luke Puskedra should lead the way here, if the pace up front is fast enough he could very well dip under 2:10. Elkanah Kibet is another guy who sort of came out of nowhere last year and dropped a 2:11 mid so he may also threaten that 2:10 mark. The last american of note is Diego Estrada. He's definitively got the talent to run well over the marathon but I don't like this sub 2:10 talk when he's yet to finish one. his half PB is impressive but I hope he runs smart and knocks out a 2:12 or so and then really gets after his next one.
As for the women's marathon, it's much more of a 1 women race. Originally I saw both Edna and Florence Kiplagat on the start list but it appears Edna has withdrawn. So the safe bet is on Florence she's far and away the best in this race. She's run 2:23 this year, (Has a 2:19 PR) and dropped a ridiculous 65:09 half marathon last year. She's going to take the win here but if she falters look for Kipketer or Baysa to contend as well.
The women's American field isn't very strong as the marathon event in general in the US is very top heavy. You've got about 5 girls who can consistently break 2:30 by a strong margin then a whole crew of 2:30-2:35ers. I suspect Serena Burla will come out on top as first american in about 2:30-33.
My week in training.
Monday - 92' with 4X15" strides
Tuesday - 75' with 4X15" strides
Wednesday - 64' with 12X200m worked down from 32" off 90" rest.
Thursday - 77' Farlek on the trails 15X1'/1' @ 5:00/5:30 a mile continuous. (Hard on trails)
Friday - OFF
Saturday - 75' with 4X15" strides
Sunday - 120' Long Run with 4X15' mid run @ 5:15/mile on the hilly Blvd Loop
So that's another one in the books, we started taking my volume down a bit to freshen the legs for Scotia. Before I get out of here, if anyone hasn't read my boy Micheal Rochus's piece on the trackie.ca homepage go give it a read (Junk Miles). It's important our sport starts to attract more casual fans and he's got some ideas that can really work. Give it a read!
Until next time keep those sticks on the ice guys, and go jays!