Mosop, Shobukhova set pace at Chicago
Boston Marathon runner-up Moses Mosop of Kenya and two-time defending women's champion Liliya Shobukhova of Russia lead world-class fields in Sunday's Chicago Marathon.
"This elite field is not only dynamic, but has the potential to attack the record books," race director Carey Pinkowski said.
"If the weather is good, there could be some reshuffling of not just the Chicago Marathon records, but also the list of all-time fastest certified marathons."
Mosop's marathon debut last April at Boston produced a time of 2 hrs 3 mins 6 secs. He lost by four seconds to compatriot Geoffrey Mutai but carries the fastest entry time this weekend.
Mosop, also second in this year's Paris Half-Marathon, set a world record of 1:26:47.4 in the 30 000 metres in June at Eugene, Oregon, breaking the old mark of 1:29:18.8 set by Japan's Toshihiko Seko in Christchurch on March 22, 1981.
Shobukhova, 33, could become the first person to win the Chicago Marathon three times in a row. She has already clinched the World Marathon Majors women's title and a $500 000 bonus.
The men's field also includes Kenya's Evans Cheruiyot, who won the 2008 Chicago race in a personal best of 2:06:25 but has been unable to compete in it since due to injuries. Cheruiyot was second at this year's Dubai Marathon.
American Ryan Hall has a personal best of 2:04:58 with Ethiopia's Bazu Worku third-fastest in the field at 2:05:25.
Kenyan Bernard Kipyego, runner-up at the 2009 world half-marathon championship, ran 2:07:01 in his full-distance debut at last year's Rotterdam Marathon.
Kenya's Dickson Kiptolo Chumba won this year's Rome Marathon while Ethiopian Getu Feleke, with a best of 2:05:44, set a course record of 2:05:44 last year at Amsterdam. Also in the line-up is Houston Marathon winner Bekana Daba of Ethiopia.
Japan's Atsushi Sato, who owns his homeland's national half-marathon record of 1hr 25secs, will attempt to break the Japanese men's marathon record of 2:06:16 set by Toshinari Takaoka at the 2002 Chicago Marathon.
Brazil's Marilson Dos Santos, the 2006 and 2008 New York Marathon champion, races in Chicago for the first time since 2004 in quest of the Brazilian and South American record of 2:06:05 held by Ronaldo Da Costa.
Shobukhova's toughest rival could be Ethiopia's Askale Tafa, winner of the 2007 Dubai and Paris marathons and with a personal best of 2:21:31 that trails only Shobukhova.
Kayoko Fukushi, who holds Japanese women's records at 3 000 and 5 000 metres as well as in the half-marathon, will try to dethrone the Russian as well.
China's Wei Yanan, the two-time Seoul Marathon champion, and Benita Willis, who set an Australian record of 2:22:36 with a third-place finish at the 2006 Chicago Marathon, are also in the hunt, as is Christelle Daunay, who owns the French women's marathon record of 2:24:22.