I am sitting in the coffee shop in the Chicago Hilton, and it is late in the afternoon,
Saturday, October 7, 2023.
The emotions for many of the 40,000-plus marathoners are getting pretty high. The tech meeting has just ended, and the elite athletes are beginning their preparations for race day, getting their last full meal, making sure sports drinks are ready, checking shoes and kit, and trying to relax.
Here are my 8 Observations on the 2023 Chicago Marathon:
Kelvin Kitum. The word is Kelvin is fit and ready to roll. We understand he wants a halfway at 60:40. The Kenyan superstar has run 2:01.25, and many of the cognoscenti in the sport think that the WR is for the taking by Mr. Kitum. This is a Nike-sponsored race, and one must remember that with all of the fanfare they built around the Nike Pre Classic, a World record on their sponsored course in Chicago would blow the running community’s mind! This is Kelvin Kitum’s race to win or lose. And remember, the marathon always has surprises.
Kevlin Kiptum, Chicago Marathon 2023, photo by Kevin Morris
Ruth Chepn’getich. Ruth has won Chicago twice. She is one of the toughest women marathoners on the planet. Last week’s new WR of 2:11.53 changed the paradigm. How does Ruth respond to that performance? We understand that a 67:00 half marathon has been requested, but there are rumors that Ruth may attempt an even faster time, 2:12 or perhaps 2:11? I must admit, I am concerned about this obsession with fast times, it hurts the sport, as we do not recognize spectacular races, which could happen tomorrow in the Windy City.
Chicago Marathon 2023
Sifan Hassan. Sifan Hassan may be the happiest, most relaxed marathoner some of my keen observers have ever seen. I am assured that Sifan will win tomorrow and destroy the course record, perhaps go for the world record. I know this: Sifan Hassan is one of the most entertaining athletes since Usain Bolt and Noah Lyles. She loves to compete and dusts herself off when she fails and races again the next day!
Sifan Hassan, Chicago Marathon 2023, photo by Kevin Morris
Emily Sisson. Emily Sisson may be the most talented American women’s marathoner in the short history of our sport. Emily already has the AR, and she should break it tomorrow. I think she is capable of 2:16. I also think she is capable of a medal in Paris and LA. Emily Sisson is that damn good. She is a warrior, the highest compliment that I can give. And she trains with Molly Huddle, who is one tough distance runner. That they are both coached by the old-style king of coaching, Ray Treacy, should NEVER be underestimated.
Emily Sisson, Chicago Marathon 2023, photo by Kevin Morris
Galen Rupp. I have written about Galen since he was a sophomore in high school. A good friend, David Frank, alerted me about Galen, and we watched Galen take 2nd in the AAU JO 5,000m in San Jose in 1995. I have seen every World Champs performance and had to watch Tokyo on TV. This guy has brass ones. Galen has been working on his body mechanics and has told several media sources that he is ready to roll. I hope Galen has a great race, and gets the Olympic qualifier.
Galen Rupp, Chicago Marathon 2023, photo by Kevin Morris
Des Linden. Des Linden loves to run. It is that simple, and that may be her secret sauce. Des is running Chicago to get one strong effort in before the Olympic Trials in Feb 2024. The word is she will go out in 73 minutes and change and see what she can do. I know that Des is a fast closer, and she will be a tough finisher.
Des Linden, finishing 4th in 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials, Atlanta, GA, photo by Kevin Morris.
Connor Mantz. Connor Mantz already has a 2:07 in his short marathon career and knows he needs to get into the 2:05-2:06 range to help him progress as he builds to the Olympic Trials and possibly Paris. Mantz has the wheels, and he has the mentor, Ed Eyestone, who has been to the Olympics. Connor will have to keep his enthusiasm at bay and keep his cards close to his chest. Chicago should be a very good test!
Connor Mantz, Chicago Marathon 2023, photo by Kevin Morris
Emma Bates. I have to say, this could be Emma’s big race. Emma has had some incredible races recently and should be in great company to run well on a near-perfect day. Chicago is a place for her to excel. Emma has been able to close in her past several races like few others. Go, Emma!
Emma Bates, Chicago Marathon 2023, photo by Kevin Morris