The 2018 Bank of America Chicago Marathon is this Sunday and it has as whole lot of hype. There are plenty of storylines–Galen Rupp v Mo Farah v Geoffrey Kirui on the men’s side. And then there’s the women’s race that features two-time Chicago champ Florence Kiplagat, trying to make it three titles in the Windy City, up against reigning Dubai Marathon winner Roza Dereje. American hopefuls in that race include 2:25 marathoner Laura Thweatt, hoping to make a triumphant return to the 26.2 mile distance after a long injury battle and Olympic triathlon Gold Medalist, Gwen Jorgensen, running her first marathon since transitioning to running full-time.
But there have been more than enough articles written about all of the above mentioned athletes leading into this race. We’re going to focus on our own Aaron Braun and the other American male athletes likely to be battling with Aaron for top 10 spots on Sunday. Here goes:
AARON BRAUN – Braun’s credentials have long suggested he was due for a big marathon performance. His PRs of 13:20.25 for 5,000 meters, 27:41.54 for 10,000 meters and 1:01:38 for the half marathon certainly indicate he’d be capable of a fast marathon. His 2:12:54 PR over 26.2 miles was set in 2015 at the Chevron Houston Marathon. Injuries derailed most of his 2016 season and prevented him from competing at the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon and the Track and Field Trials (where he had been fifth over 10,000 meters in 2012). He finally returned to the marathon last fall at the 2017 Chicago Marathon. His 2:13:41 there was good for 12th place overall and third best American. Now, a year later, Braun returns to the Windy City after a first half of 2018 that included a 4:01 mile, a seventh-place finish at the USATF Cross Country Championships and a 1:02:55 half marathon at Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego.
ANDREW BUMBALOUGH- Like Braun, Bumbalough is extremely versatile–boasting personal bests of 3:37.15 for 1500 meters, 13:12.01 for 5,000 meters and 27:56.78 for 10,000 meters. His fastest marathon, 2:13:58, was set in Tokyo in 2017. Arguably his best performance, however, was his fifth-place run at this year’s Boston Marathon in historically tough conditions.
KIYA DANDENA- While Dandena is unlikely to get the pre-race publicity that others will likely receive, do not take that as an indication of what will happen on race day. The Flagstaff resident has quietly put together an impressive resume’ over the last two years that includes a 1:03:13 half marathon in hot and humid conditions at the 2017 Aramco Houston Half Marathon, a 46:58 at the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile and a 2:12:56 marathon at the California International Marathon.
ELKANAH KIBET- Kibet led a good portion of the 2015 Chicago Marathon before eventually finishing in an impressive 2:11:31. Recently, he was 5th at the USATF 20k Championships on Labor Day.
TYLER MCCANDLESS- McCandless has enjoyed a breakthrough last 10 months that saw him set PRs at every distance from the 5k to the marathon. His 2:12:28 at the California International Marathon in 2017 netted him a second-place finish and secured him a spot as one of last year’s top U.S. marathoners. He enters Chicago looking to set yet another personal best, with 16 months to go until the 2020 Olympic Trials Marathon.
LUKE PUSKEDRA- Puskedra has the best PR of anyone on this list–a 2:10:24 from the 2015 Chicago Marathon. He was just 14th at the recent USATF 20k Championships but there is plenty to be said for his talent and for his past success on this course.
PARKER STINSON- Perhaps the most talked about name in this group of late has been Parker Stinson. The University of Oregon alum has not been shy about posting his workouts leading into Chicago and they have been of serious quality. His last marathon was a 2:18:07 at the California International Marathon but that time doesn’t tell the whole story. Stinson came through the halfway mark in 1:04:41 before fading badly over the last 10k. By all accounts his build-up to Chicago has been the best training of his life and many feel he could keep that sort of hot pace going all the way to the finish this time around.