Predicting the Men’s Race
Sir Mo is back. Yes, Mo Farah of Great Britain knows how to win, and at 36, the defending Chicago champion returns, still having the speed and tenacity needed to break tapes. His personal-best 59:07 at the Great North Run Half-Marathon in England last month erased any doubts. The man can fly.
- Farah won last year in 2:05:11, but to repeat, he’ll need to run 2:04 and change.With another formidable field, this race likely will feature a sprint finish, always one of Farah’s strengths. It’s not an easy pick, but the nod goes to the four-time Olympic gold medalist. Mo does it again, but it’s close.
- Getanah Molla of Ethiopia ran a 2:03:34 this year on the lightning-fast course at Dubai. He’s got track speed for fast finishes similar to Farah and a duel between the two on Columbus Drive would be epic. He won Dubai outsprinting fellow Ethiopian Herpasa Negasa, who also is running Chicago. Molla will take a well-earned second place.
- Lawrence Cherono of Kenya will show spark when it counts with strategic moves pulling him into podium contention. He won that close Boston finish this year and has won twice at Honolulu and Amsterdam. His PR of 2:04:06 might fall if conditions are right. He’ll grab third with a burst up Roosevelt and a Boylston-like sprint down Columbus.
Coached by Alberto Salazar with the Nike Oregon Project, 2017 champion Galen Rupp is the American men’s best hope. Coming off Achilles tendon surgery after placing fifth last year, he expects to be at his best, which means he could be in or at the front of the lead pack. Moroccan-born Hassan El Abbassi of Bahran and Kenneth Kipkemoi of Kenya, fourth in Chicago last year, are strong wild cards too.
The Women’s Race
The 2019 women’s field looks slim at first glance, but just a few strong runners is all that’s needed to make for a memorable race. Not just one, but two records are up for grabs this year, and if conditions are right, there might be a lot to celebrate in Chicago in October.
- No stranger to success in Chicago, Brigid Kosgei of Kenya is peaking after a spectacular world-record 1:04:28 half-marathon at England’s Great North Run. Runner-up at Chicago in 2017 and champion in 2018, Kosgei is positioned to take on British great Paula Radcliffe’s 2002 Chicago record of 2:17:18 and maybe Radcliffe’s world record of 2:15:25, set at London in 2005. Unless she slows late, Kosgei triumphs again in 2019. If she wants Paula’s records, she’ll need to peel time from her 2:18:20 PR run at London this year. Her victory in Chicago last fall was 2:18:35. She’s stepped up in 2019 with victories at the Peachtree 10K, three half-marathons and a 5K.
- Hoping for something special, Jordan Hasay personifies the U.S. distance resurgence with hard work and persistence. Hasay ran Chicago’s 2017 edition in a snappy 2:20:57, taking third only 35 seconds behind Kosgei, who was second that year. Two foot injuries sidelined Hasay in 2018, but with help from cross-training, she is back. She’ll have her eyes on the podium and Deena Kastor’s American women’s record of 2:19:36, set in 2006 at London. She showed the comeback was real at Boston in April, placing third in 2:25:20. Salazar and the Nike Oregon Project will have her ready for a break-out performance. The view here is she’ll be runner-up and could win if Kosgei falters.
- Betsy Saina of Kenya is one to watch closely. She has a great track pedigree and won Paris in 2018 with a 2:22:56 followed a few months later by a 2:24:35 at Frankfurt. She took a step back with a 10that Boston in 2:30:32 this year, but Boston’s ups and downs don’t suit her style. She has sub-2:20 potential on the right day. The pick for her is third.
Also in the mix will be Australian Lisa Weightman, American Emma Bates and American Laura Thweatt, who is very familiar with Chicago’s streets.
The Wheelchair Races
Victory margins will be razor-thin with defending men’s champion Daniel Romanchuk and 15-time world champion Tatyana McFadden, both of the U.S., expected to win.
Watch all of the competition on Sunday, October 13, and share your predictions with us on social media.