NAIROBI, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) -- Defending Chicago Marathon champions Abel Kirui and Florence Kiplagat of Kenya are plotting to run fast time in this year's event, which will be held on Oct. 8.
Alongside the two champions, organisers have also lined up world record-holder Dennis Kimetto of Kenya, half marathon world record-holder Zersenay Tadese and three-time Olympic gold medalist Tirunesh Dibaba.
"I want to improve my personal best and Chicago fast course could give me just that. The competition I have is strong and it will spur me forward to run faster," Kirui said on Thursday from Eldoret.
Last year, it boiled down to tactics as Kirui held off compatriot Dickson Chumba to win by three seconds in 2:11:23.
The two-time world champion has a personal best of 2:05:04 and finished fourth at this year's London Marathon in 2:07:45, his fastest time since winning the second of his world titles in 2011.
Kimetto returns to Chicago for the first time since setting a course record of 2:03:45 in 2013.
Prior to that, he ran the fastest marathon debut in history in Berlin in 2012 (2:04:16) and in 2014 he became the first athlete in history to cover the marathon within 2:03, clocking a world record of 2:02:57 in Berlin.
An ankle and knee injury sustained in training early this year forced Kimetto out of Boston marathon and the 35-year-old will be keen to improve his fitness in Chicago.
Tadese, a six-time world champion on the roads and cross-country, has only finished three marathons.
While his official personal best is 2:10:41, the 2004 Olympic 10,000m bronze medallist ran 2:06:51 in the Breaking2 marathon so will be looking to replicate that kind of form in Chicago.
Kenya's Stephen Sambu made his marathon debut in Chicago in 2016, finishing fifth in 2:13:35. With PBs of 26:54.61 for 10,000m and 1:00:41 for the half marathon, it would appear the 29-year-old is capable of significantly improving his marathon PB.
Japanese quartet Kohei Mastsumura, Yuki Takamiya, Chihiro Miyawaki and Ryoichi Matsuo add further strength to this year's field.
Matsumara is the fastest of the four, having set a PB of 2:08:09 at the 2014 Tokyo Marathon. Kiplagat returns to chase her third title in a row and her fourth podium finish.
The 2010 world half marathon champion has a marathon PB of 2:19:44 and held the half marathon world record until earlier this year.
Dibaba started 2017 by becoming the third-fastest woman of all time when she finished second in London in 2:17:56. Dibaba is a three-time Olympic gold medallist, a five-time world champion on the track and a four-time winner of senior titles at the World Cross.
She made her marathon debut in 2014 with a third-place finish in London in 2:20:35. More recently, she took the silver medal in the 10,000m at the IAAF World Championships London 2017.
Valentine Kipketer returns to Chicago after finishing third last year in 2:23:41. The Kenyan finished sixth at this year's Boston Marathon.