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Posted: July 21, 2009  : Add to Mixx! Subscribe to stories like this

Athletics: 2008 Olympic Marathon Gold Medalist Sammy Wanjiru Selects 2009 Bank of America Chicago Marathon for U.S. Debut

Former Chicago Marathon Champions Evans Cheruiyot, Patrick Ivuti and Lidiya Grigoryeva to Contend for Repeat Championships

CHICAGO, IL (July 21, 2009) -- 2008 Olympic Marathon gold medalist Sammy Wanjiru (KEN) today announced he will make his first U.S. appearance at the 2009 Bank of America Chicago Marathon in an attempt to better his current personal marathon record (2:05:10). With two sub-2:06 marathons to his credit and the benefits of Chicago's sleek course, the 22-year-old Kenyan's goals are within reach.

"My plan for the fall is to lower my personal record and the Bank of America Chicago Marathon course offers the best opportunity for me to achieve that this year," said Wanjiru from Kenya. "My only focus between now and October is to prepare and train aggressively for my best performance yet."

Wanjiru has quickly made a name for himself in the world of distance running, first capturing the half marathon world record in 2005, lowering it in 2007 and winning three of the four marathons in which he has competed. His Olympic gold medal performance last summer in Beijing was the first ever for a Kenyan athlete in the marathon and marked his first World Marathon Majors (WMM) victory. This spring, he captured a second consecutive WMM win with his fastest time yet at the 2009 London Marathon (2:05:10).

"Sammy is certainly the athlete to watch in this sport right now and we are honored to be able to host him at such a pivotal point in his career," said Carey Pinkowski, Executive Race Director for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. "We have had the pleasure of witnessing four previous world records in Chicago and if conditions are right, the enthusiastic sports fans in this city could have the opportunity to see that again."

Challenging Wanjiru for the title will be 2008 Bank of America Chicago Marathon champion Evans Cheruiyot (KEN) and 2007 champion Patrick Ivuti (KEN). Cheruiyot, 27, has competed in only three marathons including his WMM debut in Chicago last fall. He broke the tape in a personal best 2:06:25, an impressive feat considering the unseasonably warm weather.

Ivuti, 31, will make his third Chicago appearance this fall, returning to the site where he posted the closest margin of victory in Chicago Marathon history in 2007. Amid record heat and humidity, Ivuti thrilled fans with a shoulder-to-shoulder sprint against two-time World Champion Jaouad Gharib (MAR), crossing the finish line only half a second ahead of Gharib (2:11:11). In 2005, he made his marathon debut in Chicago where he posted his current personal best (2:07:46) in a fifth-place finish.

Reigning women's Chicago Marathon champion Lidiya Grigoryeva (RUS) will defend the title she earned in Chicago last October with a finish time of 2:27:17. Grigoryeva, 35, is the 2007 Boston Marathon champion and owns a personal best of 2:25:10 set in Los Angeles in 2006. Her primary contender is 2005 Chicago Marathon champion Deena Kastor (USA) who has already set her sights on lowering the American marathon record she currently owns (2:19:36).

"Today's announcement significantly advances the depth of our elite athlete field for the October 11 race and continues the tradition of world class marathon competition in Chicago," said Pinkowski.

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is one of the most competitive marathons in the world. In its storied history it has hosted some of the great names in the sport including Steve Jones, Joan Benoit-Samuelson, Khalid Khannouchi, Catherine Ndereba, Deena Kastor and Paula Radcliffe. Currently, the 2009 start line will feature four former Chicago Marathon champions, eight World Marathon Major victories and two Olympic medalists.

In its 32nd year and a member of the World Marathon Majors, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon annually attracts 45,000 runners including a world class elite field and 1.5 million spectators. As a result of its national and international draw, the iconic race assists in raising $10 million for a variety of charitable causes while generating an estimated $140 million economic impact to its host city.

The 2009 Bank of America Chicago Marathon will start and finish in Chicago's Grant Park beginning at 7:30 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 11. In advance of the race, a two-day Health & Fitness Expo will be held at McCormick Place on Friday, October 9 and Saturday, October 10. More information on the race and how to get involved is available at the event Web site,

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