Top runners set for Chicago Marathon

Updated: October 6, 2011, 7:26 PM ET
Associated Press

CHICAGO -- Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he'll be participating in the Chicago Marathon on Sunday. He won't be in the race, though.

"My participation will be yelling at the top of my lungs as a bystander," said Emanuel, who competed in the Chicago Triathlon in August.

Some of the world's top runners are among the projected field of about 37,000.

Kenya's Moses Mosop will try to win his first major after a stunning debut at the Boston Marathon, where he turned in the fastest finish by a first-timer (2 hours, 3 minutes, 6 seconds) but finished four seconds behind countryman Geoffrey Mutai.

Ryan Hall will try to become the first American to win a major since Meb Keflezeghi at the 2009 New York City Marathon. And on the women's side, Liliya Shobukhova of Russia goes for her third straight Chicago win.

"We've got some very talented athletes," race director Carey Pinkowski said. "(Mosop) is going to be exciting. He looks very fit. Ryan Hall, I think he's at the point where I think he could be very competitive. Maybe we'll have an American champion here. It all depends on the day. There are a lot of things that are at stake, a lot of athletes that are looking to impress their federation."

For Hall, the Chicago Marathon is a big part of his training for the 2012 Olympics and he has said he would like to set a U.S. record in his first appearance in the race. He ran the fastest marathon by an American at Boston (2:04:58), but he still finished fourth. His time didn't count as a record, either, because the course is downhill.

Even so, he called that day "a gift from God" and "a run of faith."

This weekend, he said, "is big for me."

"I feel like this is an opportune time for me," Hall said. "I feel like this training has been really good. I've gotten myself as fit as possibly I've ever been, but there's still looking back on it, (times I think) 'I wish I would have tweaked this and that.' You learn from the race, and I'm sure I'm going to learn a heck of a lot out there on Sunday, and it will help me out in the trials. And Lord willing, I qualify for the Games as well."

Hall said he tweaked his training routine leading up to this race.

He went with fewer sessions and longer periods of rest.

"My long runs were big and hard and a little bit longer than I'd gone before," he said.

Hall said he's seen "a lot of improvement from week to week" because he's more rested.

"I know if I'm not rested, it doesn't matter what kind of workouts I've done," he said. "A lot of that comes into play the last two weeks of training."

The flat conditions in Chicago are conducive to fast times if the weather cooperates, but that's a big "if."

It's been unusually warm in three of the past four races, and a Michigan man with a heart condition died in 2007. Forecasts call for a temperature in the upper 70s, but for now, Pinkowski isn't sweating the heat.

The elite runners should be finished by the time temperature peaks, and he believes proper procedures are in place to prevent and handle emergencies.

Communication procedures between various agencies and the runners have improved since 2007. There are more water distribution points and medical aid stations, too.

"Runners are much more knowledgeable now," he said. "A lot of our Chicago runners trained through some hot weather conditions this past summer. It's something that runners plan on acclimating for, that they're aware of, and there's a lot of information out there and communication."


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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