In celebration of its 40th anniversary, the Chicago Marathon will welcome back five running legends who helped change both the race and the sport itself. Past champions Steve Jones, Khalid Khannouchi, Catherine Ndereba, Paula Radcliffe and Deena Kastor will return as race ambassadors for this year’s marathon. Each of these runners have historic finishes that have helped establish Chicago as one of the world’s premier marathons.
A two-time champion, Jones was the first runner to set a world record at the race, running a 2:08:05 in 1984.
Kannouchi has won Chicago four times. His 1999 victory was perhaps the most exciting, where he set a then-world record of 2:05:42. He was the first man to ever run below a 2:06 in the marathon.
In 2001, Ndereba became the first woman to break the course record, set by Joan Benoit Samuelson. Her time of 2:18:27 was also a new world record. This was the third world record set in Chicago and the first by a woman.
Ndereba’s course and world record stood for only one year. In 2002, she faced off with Radcliffe. In a thrilling race, Radcliffe ultimately took the victory in the record time of 2:17:18.
While Kastor did not set a world record at the Chicago Marathon, she was the last American woman to win. In 2005, she won by five seconds in 2:21:25, still the fifth fastest time ever run by an American woman.
“To have Steve, Khalid, Catherine, Paula and Deena returning to Chicago adds an extra layer of excitement and historic significance to race week as we look forward to celebrating 40 years of one of the greatest marathons in the world,” said Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski in a statement.
All five runners will participate in marathon weekend events. These include the Abbott Health and Fitness Expo and the Advocate Health Care International Chicago 5K. The Chicago Marathon takes place on Sunday, Oct. 8.