On its 40th year, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon is expecting a field of 45,000 runners, organizers say.
On Monday, a group in Lisle got an idea of what to expect when elite and amateur athletes converge on the city for the Oct. 8 race. They also received tips to help them reach the finish line in Grant Park.
"This year is a big year for us," said Carey Pinkowski, executive race director. "It's our 40th anniversary. It looks like we're going to have 45,000 runners that start the Chicago Marathon this year, which will be our biggest participation ever."
Pinkowski spoke to a group of Molex employees during a "lunch and learn" event on the company's campus. The electronics manufacturer is an official sponsor of the marathon. Molex officials announced Monday that the sponsorship will continue for another three years.
This year, more than 325 employees from Molex and other Koch Industries companies have signed up to run in the marathon.
Pinkowski told the runners attending Monday's event that the marathon will have an elite international field.
"It's probably one of the more competitive fields that we've had," he said. "We've got some exciting athletes."
Greg Meyer and Jenny Spangler, both accomplished athletes and decorated runners, joined Pinkowski to share their views about the race.
Spangler, who competed in the women's marathon at the 1996 Summer Olympics, said she expects one of the women running in the marathon to get a time of 2:20 or less.
"We have Florence Kiplagat who is coming back," said Spangler of Lake Villa. "She's trying to do her third win at Chicago. It's just a stellar field. It's going to be extremely, extremely competitive."
Meyer, who won the Chicago Marathon in 1982, was asked about the dominance of Kenyan and Ethiopian runners.
He said he believes there's "a real opportunity" for an American to win the Chicago Marathon. He pointed to how American Galen Rupp ran well at the Olympics.
"Galen is tall," Meyer said. "On a flat course like Chicago, with his track background, he's got a real shot at winning."
Meanwhile, Naperville residents will be watching out for Chris Derrick. The Neuqua Valley High School graduate is going to make his marathon debut next month.
"There's a couple buses coming down that are going to be cheering him on," Pinkowski said. "I think it's going to add a new dimension."