The presumptive 2008/2009 World Marathon Majors points champion, Germany's Irina Mikitenko, will run the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Oct. 11, organizers announced today.
Mikitenko, who has the fastest time in the world this year with her 2:22:11 at the Flora London Marathon last April, was originally going to skip the fall marathon season, pouring all of her energy into running the World Championships marathon in Berlin last month. But the 37 year-old athlete's father died just weeks before the championship, and Mikitenko lost her focus to train. She withdrew from the championships and put her plans on hold. She only recently decided to run Chicago.
"I am greatly looking forward to racing in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon as it is one of the world's fastest courses, but my decision to run there is also part of a larger professional goal," said Mikitenko through a statement. "My hope is to win each of the five World Marathon Majors and a victory in Chicago would be the next big step toward that achievement."
Born in Kazakstan, Mikitenko became a German citizen in 1997 and won the 2007/2008 World Marathon Majors points title --and the $500,000 cash award that went with it-- when the race directors of the five commercial marathons of the series cast their votes to break a tie with Ethiopian Gete Wami. A two-time London Marathon champion, Mikitenko set the German marathon record in Berlin in 2008 where she clocked 2:19:19. That mark makes her the fastest woman entered in the Chicago race.
"Irina has been the most consistent marathon champion over the last two-and-a-half years with back-to-back victories in London and a 2008 Berlin win," said Chicago race boss Carey Pinkowski through a media release. "It has been amazing to watch her grow in athleticism, strength and tactical approach to become the leading female in marathoning today. The combination of women we've brought together will make for an exciting race."
That combination includes American Deena Kastor (2:19:36 PB), Russians Lidiya Grigoryeva (2:25:10) and Liliya Shobukhova (2:24:24), Ethiopian Teyba Erkesso (2:24:18) and Japanese Mizuho Nasukawa (2:25:38).
Chicago organizers also announced additions to their men's field which will be headlined by reigning Olympic Marathon champion Samuel Wanjiru of Kenya. Morocco's Abderrahim Goumri (2:05:30 PB) will race at Chicago for the first time, as will all-purpose Ethiopian road racer, Tadese Tola, who will be making his marathon debut. Defending champion Evans Cheruiyot of Kenya (2:06:25), 2009 Paris Marathon champion Vincent Kipruto also of Kenya (2:05:47), and veteran Ben Maiyo also of Kenya (2:07:09) are also slated to compte.
The complete invited fields are as follows (listed by career best time):
Samuel Wanjiru, Kenya 2:05:10 PB
Abderrahim Goumri, Morocco 2:05:30
Vincent Kipruto, Kenya 2:05:47
Evans Cheruiyot, Kenya 2:06:25
Benjamin Maiyo, Kenya 2:07:09
Wesley Korir, Kenya 2:08:24
Procopio Franco Hernandez, Mexico 2:11:42
Patrick Rizzo, United States 2:17:05
Boaz Cheboiywo, Kenya 2:21:40
Charles Munyeki, Kenya Debut* (59:44 HM)
Seth Pilkington, United States Debut (1:00:07 20-K)
Bret Schoolmeester, United States Debut^ (1:05:34 HM)
Tadese Tola, Ethiopia Debut (1:00:58 HM)
*Ran as a pacemaker at the 2009 Fortis Marathon Rotterdam
^Ran as a pacemaker at the 2006 ING New York City Marathon
Irina Mikitenko, Germany 2:19:19 PB
Deena Kastor, United States 2:19:36
Teyba Erkesso, Ethiopia 2:24:18
Liliya Shobukhova, Russia 2:24:24
Lidiya Grigoryeva, Russia 2:25:10
Mizuho Nasukawa, Japan 2:25:38
Adriana Pirtea, Romania 2:28:52
Tera Moody, United States 2:33:54
Melissa White, United States 2:37:53
Carol Jefferson, United States Debut (1:34:15 25-K)