While 2014 Boston Marathon Champion Meb Keflezighi will be the biggest star in Chicago this weekend, some of America’s top distance runners will be racing among a field of 20,000 runners at the 2015 Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half Marathon.
In preparation for the World Championships marathon on August 22 in Beijing, Jeffrey Eggleston returns to a race he won in 2013. He then went on to place 13th in the marathon at the World Championships in Moscow, the top U.S. finisher.
Last year, wins at Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathons in Las Vegas, Chicago and Virginia Beach helped him win the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon Grand Prix. Of the 138 individuals who have qualified for 2016 U.S. Olympic Men’s Marathon Trials, Eggleston boasts the third-fastest time: a 2:10:52 last year in Australia.
“My biggest opponent right now is marathon training. If I win, great, but if I finish second or third, that’s no problem. I’m achieving my objective of competing, shaking off some rust,” said Eggleston, who won $15,000 for his Grand Prix title last year. “I really like the Rock ‘n’ Roll organization. They’ve given me such a great opportunity and it’s kind of nice that I’ve grown in parallel with them. If I can show up, run my best and tune up for the World Championships that would be a thank you to them.”
Among his top contenders are top U.S. runners Fernando Cabada, Bobby Mack, Scott Wietecha and Christian Thompson. Cabada and Mack have both won Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathons this year in San Francisco and Raleigh respectively. Wietecha has won the St. Jude Country Music Marathon three times and Thompson recently finished as second American at this year’s Pittsburgh Half Marathon.
“It’s hard to find a lot of competitive races around Raleigh during the summer so I’m looking forward to coming to Chicago and racing in the city for the first time,” said Mack, who won the U.S. 8K Championships in 2011 and then the U.S. Cross Country championships the following year. “Hopefully I can get a good hard race in and feel that competitive spirit against a competitive field and whether the race goes sub-64 or sub-65 I want to be in the mix.”
Top contenders in the women’s race include Half Marathon Grand Prix champion Lindsey Scherf (1:11:45) of Chapel Hill, N.C.; 2012 US Half Marathon Championships team member Maegan Krifchin (1:10:56) and Ethiopian-born Yihunlish Bekele (1:12:43), who now has her U.S. citizenship.
In its 7th year as Chicago’s premier half marathon, the event will welcome more than 20,000 runners over race weekend. Returning in 2015, race weekend will include two days of running with 5K and 10K events taking place on Saturday and Sunday. All finishers will earn a medal in each race, however runners who participate in both Saturday and Sunday’s events will earn a special Remix Challenge medal to commemorate their accomplishment.
Keflezighi, America’s top marathoner, will warm up with runners at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago 5K on Saturday and then pace the 90-minute group during Sunday’s half marathon. In addition to pacing both days of running, Meb will make several appearances throughout race weekend at the Health & Fitness Expo, where all runners pick up their race packets.
“People take pride in where they earn their medals and I’m glad I can help them achieve their goals,” said Keflezighi, the only runner in history to win the Boston Marathon, the New York Marathon, and an Olympic Marathon Medal. “Rock ‘n’ Roll gives you medals you want to show off. You run one race, you get one medal. Run two and be part of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Remix Challenge and you triple your medal count—one for the 5K, one for the half, another just for doubling down.”
Event weekend kicks off with a two-day Health & Fitness Expo at McCormick Place on Friday, where participants pick up their T-shirt and race number. The Rock ‘n’ Roll 5K on Saturday starts at 8 a.m. Each running event will include a post-race beer garden, entertainment on the course and a finish line celebration party.
Sunday’s races begin at 6:30 a.m. at the intersection of Columbus Dr. and Monroe, with 13.1 and 10K courses running on the streets of downtown Chicago. The fast, flat course passes many of the city’s famous landmarks and unique architecture. After crossing the finish line, runners will join family and friends to celebrate their accomplishment at the concert headlined by the Andy Grammer in Grant Park.