CHICAGO - The 2006 LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon will welcome some of the world's top talent to its 29th running this Sunday, Oct. 22. The men's and women's fields will compete for portions of the event's $650,000 prize purse. Men's and women's champions will earn $125,000 each plus significant time bonuses. They will also be seeking to put points on the new World Marathon Majors (WMM) leader board.
With the Boston and Flora London races having taken place in the spring and the real,-BERLIN MARATHON having been run on Sept. 24, the LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon will be the fourth of five world class events that constitute the WMM series. The ING New York City Marathon, on Nov. 5, will be the fifth race of the series.
The withdrawal of defending Chicago champion Felix Limo, now places favorite status on 2006 Boston winner and co-World Marathon Majors points leader, Robert Cheruiyot (KEN). A win in Chicago could give Cheruiyot a firm lead in the point standings but not without being challenged by this year's runner-up at Boston, Benjamin Maiyo (KEN), and Chicago's 2005 third place finisher, Daniel Njenga (KEN).
Should a Cheruiyot/Maiyo showdown evolve, it would constitute a re-match of the battle that took place on the streets of Boston in April. The appearance of Njenga poses an equally interesting prospect, having placed second, third, second and third in his four previous Chicago appearances, this could be the year that he claims the victory.
In the women's race, 2005 runner-up Constantina Tomescu-Dita (ROM) has shown that she is coming to Chicago with all guns loaded, intent on regaining the crown she first won in 2004. At the IAAF World Road Racing Championships in Debrecen, Hungary on October 8 she placed second over the 20 km distance while dropping under the world record with a stunning 1:03:23. Such a performance indicates that she may be knocking on the door of a sub-2:20 clocking on Sunday.
This year's field also features four women with personal bests under 2:22, including Tomescu-Dita (2:21:30), Ludmila Petrova (RUS - 2:21:29), Berhane Adere (ETH - 2:21:52) and Galina Bogomolova (RUS - 2:21:58). Additional contenders include Benita Johnson (AUS), Lidia Simon (ROM), Nuta Olaru (ROM) and the ever-green Colleen De Reuck (USA).
Sell, De Reuck lead U.S. athletes
American hopes at Chicago this year rest with Brian Sell (Rochester Hills, Mich.), 28, who was fourth at Boston this year in 2:10:55, and Abdi Abdirahman (Tucson, Ariz.), 29, who has run 2:11:24 and was second at the Jefferson Hospital Philadelphia Distance Run - Half Marathon in September with a time of 1:01:07.
Edwardo Torres (Boulder, Colo.), 25, who starred locally at Wheeling High, the University of Colorado and on the world cross-country stage, will make his marathon debut. The top American finisher this year at the Falmouth Road Race in Massachusetts, Torres also showed promise with a 1:03:33 in Philadelphia.
On the women's side, masters star and 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials champion De Reuck (Boulder, Colo.), 42, (2:26:35) will be joined by two-time U.S. Olympian Elva Dryer (Gunnison, Colo.), 35, and Sell's Hansons-Brooks teammate Melissa White (Rochester Hills, Mich.), 25. Both will be making their marathon debuts.
U.S. men and women at this year's race will have the added financial incentive of The LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon's American Development Bonus program and time bonuses for posting 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials qualifying times.
The American Development Bonus will offer an $80,000 prize purse to U.S. citizens in The 2006 LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon to be split among the first twenty-five (25) U.S. male citizen finishers and first twenty-five (25) U.S. female citizen finishers.
In addition to the $80,000 prize purse, The American Development Bonus offers an additional incentive for U.S. citizens that finish The 2006 LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon in under the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials qualifying time.
A time bonus of $2,500 to the athletes who meet the "A" Standard of 2:20:00 for men and 2:39:00 for women, and a time bonus of $1,500 to the athletes who meet the "B" Standard of 2:22:00 for men and 2:47:00 for women. The Time Bonuses are based on gun/clock time finish and are not cumulative.
For more information on the 2006 LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon visit www.chicagomarathon.com.