Running Legends Return to Chicago For The Marathon

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The Bank of America Chicago Marathon announced its complete 2010 men's and women's elite field. The additions of Ethiopians Deriba Merga and Feyisa Lilesa to the men's competition significantly strengthen what was already shaping up to be the top field in the event's 33 year history. Merga, the 2009 Boston Marathon champion, and Lelisa, who has a personal best 2/05/23, will join forces with defending Bank of America Chicago Marathon champion Sammy Wanjiru of Kenya, London Marathon champion Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia and Boston Marathon champion Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot of Kenya.

"The best field in Bank of America Chicago Marathon race history just got even better," said Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski. "The depth of talent in the marathon is at an all-time high at the national and international levels. These athletes are hungry to compete against one another and this year's field will bring a new level of excitement to the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. The stage is set for a historic race on 10/10/10."

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Despite American runner Josh Cox pulling out of the race due to fatigue,
the return of two marathon greats, Joan Benoit Samuelson and Steve
Jones make this years race even more exciting.

Benoit Samuelson and Jones are back to compete on the 25th anniversary
of their historic victories. The 1985 Chicago Marathon still ranks among
the most memorable in the event's history. Both athletes nearly set
world records on the same day, and registered performances that put the
Bank of America Chicago Marathon on the fast track to becoming one of
the premier running events in the world. "The sport of marathon running
does not have bigger legends than Joan Benoit Samuelson and Steve
Jones
," said Bank of America Chicago Marathon Executive Race Director
Carey Pinkowski. "These two athletes set the bar for world class
performances at the Chicago Marathon 25 years ago, and they ushered the
sport of distance running into a new era. We're proud that they are
returning to Chicago to add another exciting storyline to this year's
race."

When American Joan Benoit Samuelson crossed the finish line of the 1984 Olympic Games Marathon in Los Angeles, she became the event's first-ever female gold medalist, and as a result, a national hero. Benoit Samuelson brought her hero status to Chicago in 1985 to face one of the deepest women's fields ever assembled, including world record holder Ingrid Kristiansen of Norway and Olympic bronze medalist and defending Chicago Marathon champion Rosa Mota of Portugal. Benoit Samuelson won in 2:21:21 to establish a new course and American record, while missing the world record by just 13 seconds.

Benoit Samuelson's American record stood until 2003. "It's a true gift to return to the Bank of America Chicago Marathon after posting my fastest time ever in the same marathon 25 years ago," said Benoit Samuelson. "I never thought that I would still be competing 25 years later and challenging myself with new goals. After the Olympic Trials in Boston in 2008, I said that I was finished with competitive marathon running, but the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on 10/10/10 is too great of an opportunity to pass up. My goal is to run as fast as I can for as long as I can and to challenge my best time over the age of 50."

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Welshman Steve Jones put the Chicago Marathon in the distance running
spotlight in 1984 when he won the eighth annual event in a world record
time of 2:08:05. Jones' performance gave instant fame and notoriety to
the Bank of America Chicago Marathon for its flat and fast course. He
returned to Chicago in 1985 to defend his title and reclaim the world
record which had been broken by Portugal's Carlos Lopes. On a cool and
rainy day, Jones ran solo virtually from the gun, passing the halfway
point in 1:01:40 (unofficially). He missed the world record by one
second, however, his winning time of 2:07:13 set a course record and
remains the British marathon record. Jones' aggressive running style
won him many fans in Chicago, and his attempt to shatter the world
record in 1985 is one of the most revered efforts in all of marathon
running.

"This event was the site of my greatest athletic performances and I always look forward to returning," said Jones. "I'm
proud to be part of the tradition of the Bank of America Chicago
Marathon and to have witnessed how the event has grown since I last won
here 25 years ago. This time I'll enjoy the run without the pressure of
a word record to reclaim
."

Parts from Press Release

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