Wesley Korir, the newly crowned Boston Marathon champion, will return to run the Chicago Marathon for the fifth consecutive year, race officials announced Wednesday.
Korir is the first elite athlete announced for the 35th running of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Oct. 7.
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Korir, a native of Kenya who attended the University of Louisville in Kentucky and still lives and trains there, was runner-up at the 2011 Chicago race in a personal best 2:06:15. Even with his world-class performance in Chicago, Korir was a relative underdog this spring when he executed a perfect race plan in challenging conditions at the Boston Marathon, rallying from nearly a minute behind the race leader with five miles to go to win his first Major marathon in stunning fashion.
With two L.A. Marathon victories to his credit, Korir has a storied history at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. After paying his own way into the open field at the 2008 event, he started the race five minutes behind the elite athletes, yet still managed to record the fourth-fastest time of the day, catching and passing all but a few members of the elite field before posting a finish time of 2:13:53. The following year, Korir was invited back to Chicago as an official member of the elite field and placed sixth overall in 2:10:38. In 2010, he improved once again to fourth place overall in 2:08:44 before his breakthrough performance in 2011 that served as the springboard to his defining win in Boston. After the biggest victory of his career, Korir enters the 2012 Bank of America Chicago Marathon with his eye on the top level of the podium.
"We're thrilled to welcome Wesley back to the Bank of America Chicago Marathon for the fifth year in a row, no doubt with a little more fanfare this year after his well-earned victory at the Boston Marathon," said Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski. "Wesley has proven that he's one of the best marathon runners in the world, but I am far more impressed by his humble nature and perseverance. He literally started his marathon career with the masses and now he's at the pinnacle of the sport. He's a true success story."
"The Bank of America Chicago Marathon is where I started my professional career and I am honored to return to this year's race, especially after winning the Boston Marathon," said Korir. "I love the city of Chicago. It's close to Louisville and I always have a large group of friends who drive up to cheer for me, which makes me feel at home along with the support from the local fans and volunteers. I come to the Bank of America Chicago Marathon this year full of confidence that no matter who is in the field, they will have to beat me to win it."