LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon welcomes six elite athletes to 2006 field
The LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon today announced six additions to its elite field. The world-class competitors will compete for a portion of the Race’s $650,000 prize purse, the largest available in the sport, at its 29th running on Sunday, October 22.
Returning 2005 men’s champion Felix Limo (KEN) will defend his title alongside four-time Chicago competitor Daniel Njenga (KEN) in the men’s field. The 2004 LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon women’s champion Constantina Tomescu-Dita (ROM) will be joined by Benita Johnson (AUS), Ludmilla Petrova (RUS) and Galina Bogomolova (RUS) in the women’s field.
“We have historically attracted world-class athletes to The LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon and the 2006 event continues with that great tradition,” commented Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski. “The elite field confirmed to compete in Chicago features some of the most accomplished marathon runners in the world. We are expecting to see a very fast and exciting competition on October 22.”
Since winning The 2005 LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon, Limo, 26, has taken an early lead in the inaugural World Marathon Majors series with a 2:06:39 victory at the Flora London Marathon on April 23. In returning to Chicago this fall, he will not only look to defend his title, but to advance his position on the Majors leader board. With his recent London victory, Limo is now a four-time marathon champion having also earned titles at the 2004 real,- Berlin Marathon (2:06:44) and 2004 Rotterdam Marathon with a personal best 2:06:14.
Njenga, 30, is no stranger to the Chicago course as 2006 will mark his fifth consecutive LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon. Consistently finishing in second or third in all prior Chicago appearances, Njenga has a keen familiarity of the course where he set his personal record (2:06:16) in a 2002 second-place finish.
The women’s field will be led by The 2004 LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon champion Tomescu-Dita, 36. After clocking her 2004 win in 2:23:45, Tomescu-Dita returned in 2005 to set a personal best (2:21:30) while challenging eventual champion Deena Kastor who earned her victory by only a five-second margin.
Australian Benita Johnson, 27, placed sixth in her marathon debut at the 2005 Flora London Marathon in 2:26:32. This fall will mark the first Chicago appearance for the Australian 5,000m National Record holder (14:47,60).
With 15 finishes in the top 10 under her belt (6 ING New York City, 5 Flora London, 2 Boston, 1 Olympic and 1 European Championship), Petrova, 38, will make her Chicago debut this fall. In April she set the Russian National Record with a 2:21:29 second-place finish at the Flora London Marathon, breaking her personal best 2:22:33 which she set on that same course in 2002. Petrova was the 2000 champion of the ING New York City Marathon, earning the title with a 2:25:45 finish.
Bogomolova, 28, will compete in only her third marathon and her second World Marathon Major this year when she arrives in Chicago this October. In her marathon debut in December 2005, she placed second at the Las Vegas Marathon finishing in 2:31:54. This spring, she shattered that time by nearly 10 minutes, placing fifth at the Flora London Marathon in 2:21:58. An experienced track runner, Bogomolova won the 2003 World Championships 10,000m in Paris, clocking a personal best 30:26,20.
The LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon course has been home to several World and U.S. Records during its 28-year history. Steve Jones of Great Britain (2:08:05–1984), Khalid Khannouchi of Morocco (2:05:42–1999), Kenyan Catherine Ndereba (2:18:47–2001) and Great Britain’s Paula Radcliffe (2:17:18–2002) have each experienced World Record success in Chicago. Americans Joan Benoit Samuelson (2:21:21–1985), Jerry Lawson (2:10:04–1996, 2:09:35–1997), David Morris (2:09:32–1999) and Khannouchi (2:07:01–2000), who became a U.S. citizen in 2000, have each set new U.S. Records while competing in Chicago.
The 29th running of The LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon will take place on Sunday, October 22, beginning and ending in Chicago’s historic Grant Park. The Race will feature 40,000 registrants and expects more than 1.5 million spectators along its course. For more information, visit the Race website, chicagomarathon.com.
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