Chicago, IL – All eyes are on this year's Chicago Marathon as Kelvin Kiptum gears up for a head-to-head showdown with Eliud Kipchoge’s…. World Record time (2:01:09)! The central question captivating this year’s Windy City race: can Kiptum dethrone the marathon king’s Berlin record time from 2022? One day out, the weather looks good for a fast 26.2 mile (42 km) foot race through the flat streets of Chicago.
Eliud Kipchoge, often considered the greatest marathoner of all time, has an almost insurmountable marathon track record: a sub-2-hour marathon at the Ineos 1:59 Challenge, Olympic Gold Medals, and five victories in the Berlin Marathon alone. He has dominated marathons globally for almost a decade, setting world records and accumulating accolades of mythic proportions in the long distance running scene.
Kelvin Kiptum, on the other hand, is the up and coming youngster (23) with a long runway ahead of him in his adolescent marathoning career. Known for his impressive half-marathon times, Kiptum has increasingly shifted his focus to the full
26.2-mile distance in 2023. Many long distance running fans believe his youthful speed and turnover could pose a real challenge to Kipchoge's supremacy on the roads in Chicago, or in future marathons in 2024. Kiptum ran 2 hours, 1 minute, 25 seconds to prevail in London just 5 months ago. Common sense says he is far from hitting his peak, which means road racing world records are in his crosshairs. And let's not forget, this is Kiptum's third marathon ever.
Keep in mind that the Chicago Marathon is notorious for its flat, fast course, with just 70 meters of elevation gain, offering an ideal setting for record-breaking performances. The weather can be hit or miss along Lake Michigan. Some years the temperatures rise too high for premier marathon performance, but other years, like this one, looks to offer that perfectly
crisp 42-degree Fahrenheit starting time temperature. Running fans and pundits alike anticipate a race for the ages if the weather pattern holds for Kiptum on Sunday.
While Eliud Kipchoge's run in Berlin last month showcased a master still in his peak racing shape, executing a great race strategy with unerring precision, Kiptum brings his own strengths now to the streets of Chicago. His recent win at the London Marathon last spring suggests the big stage is where he likes to live, and run fast. And in a pre-race interview Kiptum said he is well-trained for the Chicago course and believes he can become the first man in history to run a 2:00 flat. Kiptum’s choice of Chicago over the other fall majors, Berlin and NYC, indicates his eagerness to chase the world record.
Without a doubt Kiptum is going to take some risks on Sunday, which could come back to haunt him, but I predict will pay off big time at the finish line. A sub 2:00 hour marathon is unlikely in his third marathon ever, but inching below 2:01 is certainly possible with the right weather conditions and this flat Chicago marathon course. It wouldn't hurt either if he had a pack to draft behind that first 15k, and then see what happens from there. Kelvin Kiptum, the world is watching and eager to cheer on this effort.