CHICAGO — The Bank of America Chicago Marathon today announced that three-time Olympic Gold medalist, 18-time World Championship medalist and current World Record holder in the 5,000m and 10,000m, Kenenisa Bekele (ETH), will compete in his second marathon and first World Marathon Major in Chicago on October 12. In a career spanning nearly 15 years, Bekele, 32, has only raced on American soil — and always on the track — five times.
In one of the most anticipated marathon debuts in history, Bekele raced into the record books, clocking the sixth-fastest marathon debut time while setting a new course record, 2:05:03, at the 2014 Schneider Electric Paris Marathon. Over a challenging course with several uphill climbs, Bekele ran uncontested from 30K to the finish.
“I am looking forward to coming back to America, and to running fast,” says Bekele. “I have heard great things about the fans in Chicago and the course. After my win in Paris, I understand the marathon distance a lot better and I will bring that experience to Chicago. I know Chicago has a very fast course and, therefore, my goal is to break the course record of 2:03:45. After that, everything is possible.”
Throughout its storied history, the Chicago Marathon, widely recognized as one of the fastest marathons in the world, has witnessed four World Records. Bekele is the ideal candidate to threaten Wilson Kipsang’s 2013 World Record set in Berlin, 2:03:23.
“Kenenisa Bekele is one of the best, most versatile and exciting athletes competing on the global stage today,” says Bank of America Chicago Marathon Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski. “Any time an athlete of Bekele’s caliber lines up to race, course records and world records are in jeopardy. We expect Bekele to put on a speed show, and it’s not out of the question to think that Bekele could bring the World Record back home to Chicago.”
From 2003 to 2012, Bekele never lost a 10,000m that he finished (he recorded one DNF in 2011). In 2002, he became the first man in history to win both the long course (12K) and short course (4K) at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, a feat he continued for the next four years. To date, Bekele’s 12 World Cross Country titles (not including his four team wins) are more than any other athlete in history. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, he doubled in the 5,000m and 10,000m, taking home gold in both events. Earlier that year in Eugene, Oregon, he fell short of breaking his own World Record in the 10,000m, but still ran the fastest time ever recorded in the U.S., finishing in 26 minutes and 25.97 seconds.
Bekele announced his most recent transition from the track and mud to the roads by winning his debut half marathon at the 2013 Great North Run in a sprint finish.