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The lean international field at the Chicago Marathon seems tailor-made for Jordan Hasay to rack up another podium finish at a World Marathon Major. Between fall majors Chicago, Berlin and New York, plus last week’s extremely late in the year IAAF World Championships, there’s just too many options this fall for elite athletes.
But that’s good news for Hasay, who needs all the luck she can get after her long-time coach Alberto Salazar was handed a four-year ban last week for experimenting with performance-enhancing drugs. Last night, Nike announced that it would disband Salazar’s Nike Oregon Project, of which Hasay was a member. Without Salazar as a coach, the move was largely ceremonial but still leaves questions—would Hasay join another training group? Or would she self-coach? She told Runner’s World this week that she handles much of her workout planning herself, and trains remotely from the NOP homebase in California anyway. Still, she’ll have a lot of noise from fans and the media to shut out this weekend—as will fellow former Salazar acolytes Galen Rupp and Mo Farah in the men’s race.
So, what of Hasay’s chances? She has a superb record of competition in Abbott World Marathon Majors, placing third in all three that she’s started. The 28-year-old American’s third-place 2017 finish in Chicago yielded the second-fastest time in American history, 2:20:57. In the spring, Hasay expressed her intent to take a crack at Deena Kastor’s 2:19:36 American record but recently walked back that goal in an interview with Runner’s World. It’s hard to say what kind of shape she’s in, but her tune-up race—the Philadelphia Rock ‘N’ Roll Half Marathon—she ran 72:35 for third place, about two minutes slower than the same race two years ago. Not an outstanding result, but nothing to worry about either, if that pace was the plan. When healthy, Hasay is probably the top American marathoner right now and a top-three finish here will cement her status as a favorite at the Olympic Trials. Of course, she probably wants more than that in Chicago.
The lone figure truly standing in Hasay’s way for an outright win at the Chicago Marathon is defending champion Brigid Kosgei of Kenya, whose undefeated year included a win at the London Marathon in 2:18:20, a time that made her the seventh-fastest woman in world history. She is planning to target Paula Radcliffe’s 17-year-old course record of 2:17:18, a time that only three women in history have bettered.
It’s unlikely that Kosgei loses unless something disastrous happens, and there’s a big jump between her and the rest of the field.
Other podium contenders include Gelete Burka of Ethiopia, who has a PB of 2:20:45 from the 2018 Dubai Marathon and won the Paris Marathon this year in 2:22:47; Ababel Yeshaneh of Ethiopia, who has a PB of 2:24:02 from the 2019 Tokyo Marathon; and former Hasay NCAA rival Betsy Saina of Kenya, who won the 2018 Paris Marathon in 2:22 but finished just 10th in Boston this year.
There’s a gap between Hasay and the other American women here, which includes Stephanie Bruce, Emma Bates, Laura Thweatt and Lindsay Flanagan, but this race will be a good measuring stick to prepare for the Olympic Trials. Flanagan was ninth at the Boston Marathon and Bruce won the USATF Half Marathon Championship this year, while Bates and Thweatt are interesting question marks: Thweatt is coming back from a string of injuries after running 2:25 in London, and Bates is competing in her first WMM after running 2:28 to win her debut in the distance at CIM last year.