On Sunday, October 7, the 41st Bank of America Chicago Marathon will take place along 26.2 miles of city streets and finishing in Grant Park. Each year, some of the world’s best athletes compete for a win at the Majors course, considered one of the fastest marathon courses on U.S. soil.
Lining up at this year’s event is a stacked American and international field including defending champion Galen Rupp, Mo Farah, Abel Kirui, Dickson Chumba, Yuki Kawauchi, Amy Cragg, Laura Thweatt and Alexi Pappas. But before we make our way to the Windy City alongside 45,000 runners this October, here are a few of the most memorable, interesting, tragic and record-breaking Chicago Marathon moments of the last 10 years:
It should come as no surprise that Galen Rupp and Jordan Hasay are two of our favorite moments of last year’s Chicago Marathon. Rupp, 31 at the time, ended a 15-year drought for the Americans as he crossed the finish line in 2:09:20 to take home the title. In the women’s division, Hasay became the second-fastest American marathoner in history when she broke the tape in 2:20:57, placing third overall.
In 2016, it was Tatyana McFadden’s year (again). The athlete won her sixth straight title and seventh overall in the women’s wheelchair division, coming in at 1:42:28. Her win sealed her name in history as she became the most-decorated athlete to compete in the event. At the time, her stats also included a world record in every track event as well as 17 Paralympic medals including seven gold.
Ten years after winning the Chicago Marathon, American Deena Kastor made history again, but this time her feet never touched a podium. The 42-year-old was the top American female finisher, coming in seventh in 2:27:48, and setting an American women’s masters record. This was also the first time in 25 years that the event did not allow pace-setting runners which may have led to the slowest win since 2007 in the men’s division and the second slowest in 20 years. Kenya’s Dickson Chumba came in at 2:09:25
In the men’s elite division, Eliud Kipchoge completed the course in 2:04:11, adding his second podium finish on an official Abbott World Marathon Majors course. His win was only the beginning of a slew of titles that would eventually seal his fate as the fastest marathoner in history. Of course, what we didn’t know then, was that four years later in 2018, he’d go on to set a new world record in Berlin with a time of 2:01:39. But 2014 was also an interesting year for another reason: women’s champion Rita Jeptoo was later disqualified after testing positive for the blood-boosting drug EPO. Ethiopia’s Marie Didaba was eventually declared the official winner.
Only six months earlier, two homemade pressure cooker bombs detonated at the Boston Marathon, killing three people and leaving several hundred others injured. Because of this, tensions were high among runners and race officials increased security for the event. But even in the wake of tragedy, 39,122 runners crossed the finish line that October, the highest since 2000. Plus, a new course record was set in the men’s field as Dennis Kimetto broke the tape in 2:03:45.
This was Ethiopia’s year. The country’s athletes swept the podium on the men’s side and took the top spot for the women. For the female division, Atsede Baysa beat out Kenyan Rita Jeptoo in 2:22:03 by only one second, becoming the closest finish in the event’s history among elite women. In the men’s division, Tsegaye Kebede crossed the finish line in 2:04:38, breaking the course record and becoming the first Ethiopian male to win in the Windy City. That year also saw more than 1,300 runners cross the finish line without receiving medals. The staff had only ordered enough medals to hand out to runners who finished faster than 6.5 hours.
If you thought running a marathon in itself was hard work, try doing so 39 weeks pregnant. In 2011, Chicago local Amber Miller completed all 26.2 miles (with the run-walk method) before going into labor and giving birth to a baby girl just hours later. Over in the elite field, Kenyan Moses Mosop took home the win in 2:05:37 while Russia’s Liliya Shobukhova broke the tape in 2:18:20, winning her third straight title in the event. Her time was the second fastest in history until 2014 when she was subsequently disqualified for all three years after testing positive in a drug test. All her records have since been erased.
Kenyan Samuel Kamau Wanjiru defended his title at the 2010 event, breaking the tape in 2:06:23, solidifying himself as one to watch in long-distance running. Only two years earlier he had moved to the full marathon and won the event at the 2008 Beijing Olympics to secure a new Olympic record with a time of 2:06:32. In 2009, the athlete won both the London and Chicago marathons in 2:05:10 and 2:05:41, respectively. On May 15, 2011, Wanjiru tragically died during a domestic dispute in his home. The 2010 Chicago Marathon was his final race.
Just two years earlier, the weather during the 2007 Chicago Marathon was so hot that after 3.5 hours, the course was shut down and runners could not complete their race. In 2009, however, temperatures were the lowest they’d been in over a decade, sitting at around 45 degrees F and with a slight 5 mph wind speed. Along with the colder temps, problems with the electronic chip-timing system at around mile nine led to 56 disqualifications. They were eventually overturned once race organizers were made aware of the malfunction.
While the 2008 marathon was not as blisteringly hot as the year before, its over 70 degree temperatures at the finish line were nothing to joke about. In total, 11,000 runners didn’t even bother to show up on race day. However, for Kenyan Evans Cheriuyot, the weather was not a factor. Coming in at 2:06:25, the runner secured his sixth win at the event and had the ninth fastest time in the race’s 31-year history.