May 26, 2004 at 12:50 am #1545
Chicago (May 19, 2004) The LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon will once again be home to
the world’s most recognizable marathoner, Khalid Khannouchi. The LaSalle Bank Chicago
Marathon and Khannouchi have reached an agreement that will bring him to the streets of
Chicago for the next four years.
The four-year deal calls for Khannouchi to participate exclusively in Chicago among all fall
marathons and will give him the opportunity to compete for the world record on a course he
has dominated over the years.
With four first-place finishes in Chicago, including a World Record in 1999 and an American
Record in 2002, Khannouchi has become synonymous with the LaSalle Bank Chicago
Marathon. His dominance and epic performances on the 26.2 mile route is one of the great
sports stories in Chicago.
Khannouchi withdrew from last year’s Chicago marathon due to injury. After months of
treatment and rest, Khannouchi just finished his first phase of altitude training and feels
better than he has in years – he is focused squarely on a top performance in Chicago.
“I have been in intense training for the past 8 weeks and now feel that I can compete at the
level I expect of myself for a full marathon,” stated Khannouchi. “Chicago is where I started
my marathon career and I couldn’t think of any other place where I’d like to make my
comeback. I have a goal in mind and I believe Chicago is just the place I need to be to
achieve that goal.”
Khannouchi will have tough competition the next few years as last year’s defending
champion, Evans Rutto of Kenya, announced earlier this year that he will run Chicago the
next two years. Khannouchi tends to perform at his best when faced with challenges and
tough competition. The 2002 London Marathon proves just that as he overcame one of the
strongest marathon fields ever assembled to lower his own World Record with a 2:05:38
The dramatic race included Khannouchi passing two of the greatest distance runners ever –
Paul Tergat and Haile Gebreselassie – in the final two miles. Khannouchi’s London victory
was also redemption of sorts. He finished third in the 2000 London Marathon in 2:08:36,
missed the 2000 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials with injuries and dropped out of the 2001
World Championships marathon due to severe foot blisters.
Last year was much the same for Khannouchi as his injuries kept him from competing in
Chicago and the U.S. Olympic Trials, but if history repeats itself, Khannouchi could be at his
best ever in 2004.
“Khalid Khannouchi is one of the most determined athletes I have ever come across,” added
Executive Race Director Carey Pinkowski. “He thrives in Chicago and he loves this city. His
injuries are behind him and his preparation for this year’s race is going extremely well.”
When asked when a world record might return to Chicago, Pinkowski noted it has been over
a year since Paula Radcliffe shocked the world with her then 2:17:18 World Record and he
responded frankly: “I fully expect that the new LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon route is
designed to host a world record attempt on October 10 this year.”
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