Bank of America Chicago, 2009: Wanjiru wants WR, by Larry Eder

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Sammy Wanjiru, August 2008, Beijing Olympics, photo by PhotoRun.net

Sammy Wanjiru is the Olympic champion. His win in Beijing was his third marathon. In his first, Wanjiru won Fukuoka in 2:06:39 in December 2007. He had taken second in his second marathon, the 2008 Flora London marathon. In the 2009 Virgin London Marathon, Sammy Wanjiru handled a very stiff early pace to set a new personal best and to win. So, in his marathon schedule, he has three wins, one second, or 3 for 4. Sammy also has broken the world record twice for the half marathon: in 2005, at the ripe old age of 18, Sammy ran 59:16. Then Haile Gebrselassie took the WR back in 2006, with his 58:55. In 2007, Sammy took the WR back, running 58:53 in the RAK half marathon in February. When he did not get the record there (incomplete drug testing protocals), Sammy ran 58:33 at Den Haag, the Netherlands in March 2007.

In an interview that we did with Sammy for the Running Network TV show, I asked Sammy about his plans for this weekend. Sammy noted " I would like to run very fast, I want to break the record. " I then asked what is more important, the record or winning in Chicago. Sammy thought for a moment, and then said, " I want both, I want to win and set the record."

Sammy has his hands full with a very, very tough field. Abderrahim Goumri, the man with the fastest track credentials (12:50.25 for 5,000m, and 27:14.65 for 10,000m, and in seven starts, has finished six marathons, with three seconds (two at ING NYC, one at Flora London), one third (Flora London). Abderrahim wants to win badly. He was stung by his second place at ING New York City in November 2008 and his sixth in London 2009. Goumri has the tools, he just needs a confidence boost.

For the darkhorse, my gut tells me that Vincent Kipruto, the winner of the Paris International Marathon, in 2:05:47, is the spoiler. Vincent is where Sammy was a year ago: he is hungry, and he knows that he has another good one in him.

The weather should be cool, and the conditions perfect for a world record, do not be surprised if Sammy Wanjiru and Vincent Kipruto are duking it out at 40 kilometers, with Abderhamann Goumri close behind! More to come later today....

For more on the race, http://www.chicagomarathon.com
For more on the sport, http://www.runningnetwork.com

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