Olympic Champion Kenenisa Bekele To Race Chicago Marathon

The Ethiopian holds the 5,000m and 10,000m world records on the track.

The Ethiopian holds the 5,000m and 10,000m world records on the track.

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Three-time Olympic gold medalist Kenenisa Bekele will race his second marathon at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Oct. 12, race organizers announced. The world record holder at 5000m and 10,000m will be making his American road racing debut, seeking a win and the $100,000 first-place prize.

“I am looking forward to coming back to America, and to running fast,” Bekele, 32, said in a statement. “I have heard great things about the fans in Chicago and the course.”

In his marathon debut on April 6, Bekele won the Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris in a course record of 2:05:03. His margin of victory at the IAAF Gold Label road race was 1 minute, 45 seconds.

“After my win in Paris, I understand the marathon distance a lot better and I will bring that experience to Chicago. I know Chicago has a very fast course and, therefore, my goal is to break the course record of 2:03:45,” Bekele continued. “After that, everything is possible.”

Celebrating its 37th edition, the Bank of America course record was set by Kenya’s Dennis Kimetto last year. Kimetto will not be defending his title, instead racing the BMW Berlin Marathon on Sept. 28.

Only once in the event’s history has an Ethiopian won the men’s race. That came in 2012, when Tsegaye Kebede set a then-course record of 2:04:38. In 2013, the race featured 39,122 finishers, an event record.

RELATED: Bekele Blazes Debut Marathon In Paris

“Kenenisa Bekele is one of the best, most versatile and exciting athletes competing on the global stage today,” said Chicago Marathon Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski. “Any time an athlete of Bekele’s caliber lines up to race, course records and world records are in jeopardy. We expect Bekele to put on a speed show, and it’s not out of the question to think that Bekele could bring the world record back home to Chicago.”

Of course, Pinkowski is speaking of Kenyan Wilson Kipsang’s world record of 2:03:23, set at the 2013 BMW Berlin Marathon. Four world records have been set on the flat and fast Chicago Marathon course.

One of the most decorated athletes in athletics history, Bekele is an 18-time world championships medalist. This will be his first World Marathon Major contest.

The Chicago Marathon had previously announced that reigning women’s champion Rita Jeptoo will return seeking her second title. She is currently leading the World Marathon Majors standings with 75 points after winning her third Boston Marathon title in April.

RELATED: Jeptoo, McFadden In For Chicago