I usually enjoy either running or cheering along the route of the Bank of America Chicago marathon. But after hearing today's announcement, I think might have to find a television instead. That's because the race among the leaders promises to be epic. The top two entrants announced so far, both ran unprecedented times at April's Boston marathon.
Ryan Hall is the best marathoner this country has produced in several generations. And after his amazing 2:04:58 performance in Boston, he has entered a new realm on the international front. He led the race early, and set the pace before eventually falling back slightly, finishing 4th. But the first two finishers ran well under the world record time, and Hall's time would have set an American record, but the Boston course doesn't qualify for those records.
One of those two top finishers, Moses Mosop, is also coming to Chicago. Mosop ran an amazing 2:03:06 in Boston, and was beaten by Geoffrey Mutai's 2:03:02. Both are times that would have been practically unthinkable just a few years ago.
For Mosop, the even more incredible detail is that it was his marathon debut. He'd never raced the distance before. Chicago, in October, will be only his second race at the marathon distance. And coincidently, his Boston performance broke the previous marathon debut record set by Evans Rutto in the 2003 Chicago marathon (2:05:50).
Ryan Hall told me he's excited to race against Mosop again, and part of the reason he's running Chicago is to increase his experience racing against runners of his caliber.
Hall is truly a great ambassador for the sport. I got a chance to run a few miles with him a couple years ago, and was impressed with his warmth, and down-to-earth personality. He shared some great advice with a group of young Chicago runners on the Lakefront, answering their questions, and relating to them in ways few other world class athletes could.
Some marathon experts question whether Hall is taking a risk running Chicago just three months before the U.S. Olympic trials, but he told me he wouldn't do it if he thought that would be an issue.
You can see my entire interview with Hall and Marathon Director Carey Pinkowski here: https://abclocal.go.com/wls/video?id=8277251
And if you are a fan of the U.S. Women's soccer team (and who's not these day), the marathon will also give us an opportunity to see three of the team's stars in running shoes. Bank of America announced Hope Solo, Abby Wambach, and Alex Morgan will run the marathon as part of a relay to raise money for charity.
I don't know how good they are as distance runners, but they all (other than Solo who is the goalie) certainly run quite a bit in their sport! It should be fun to watch at the front, and in the middle of the pack on October 7th.
Now on to the prize portion of this entry! The Chicago Half Marathon has already been around for 15 years! I remember running it when they first started the race, and it was a relatively small field running through the Hyde Park area on the south side. Now it's become a big time race that will attract a huge field that runs nearly the entire course on Lake Shore Drive. It's really a great race, and it will be run on September 11th this year. If you are the first to respond in the comment section with the correct answers to the following questions, you win a free entry to the race.
1. Who holds the American Men's record for the Marathon? (Hint: he was a fixture in Chicago until a few years ago).
2. Ryan Hall has won just one marathon. Which one was it?
3. Which ABC-7 meteorlogist has run more marathons: Phil Schwarz or Jerry Taft?