Kenyan Brigid Kosgei has set her sights on a second straight Chicago Marathon title

Kenya's Brigid Kosgei will on Sunday return to Chicago eyeing to be third time lucky as she battles to defend the marathon title she won last year.

Kosgei, 25, was second in 2017 on her debut, but she made an even bigger splash last year when she won the race with the third-fastest time in Chicago's history of 2:18:35.

While Kosgei, the seventh fastest woman in the history of marathon running, has been unbeatable in 2019, American marathon debut record holder Jordan Hasay and 2018 Paris marathon champion Betsy Saina should make for an exciting trio up front.

"The Chicago marathon is a tough race. I struggled up to my maximum, and then I won," said Kosgei on Tuesday ahead of her departure to Chicago.

Kosgei has literally been unbeatable in 2019, and her dominance extends to winning a 10-kilometer race, three half marathons, a 5km, and the London marathon.

"I was happy I have been able to run well this season. It has not been easy," she added.

Kosgei has won the Honolulu marathon twice and finished eighth in Boston at 2:31:48. Overall, she has finished first or second in nine of her ten career marathons. But she is aware the past record will only count on paper and her legs have to do the actual fight for her to retain her title and boost her chances of leading Kenya team to the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

"I would like to compete in the Olympics. But there are hurdles to be cleared before thinking of the Olympics. For now, winning in Chicago will be important and then we will see how 2020 turns out," she added.

Saina, the former Paris marathon runner says she has returned to shape after injury concerns that limited her cruise in Boston in April. Saina, a 2016 Olympian in the 10,000m, enjoyed a flash of brilliance in the marathon when she won the 2018 Paris marathon in 2:22:56.

After spending her career on the track, she experienced a rocky transition to the marathon in 2017, failing to finish both the Tokyo and New York City marathons. However, she delivered in Paris and a few months later, she finished eighth in Frankfurt at 2:24:35.

This year, she finished 10th in Boston at 2:30:32 and defended her title at Japan's Marugame half marathon clocking the best time of 1:07:49.

The men's field includes four-time Olympic gold medalist and defending Chicago marathon champion, Mo Farah, Olympic marathon bronze medalist and 2017 Chicago marathon champion Galen Rupp and 2015 Chicago marathon champion, Dickson Chumba.

Throw in Boston marathon champion Lawrence Cherono and the quartet will certainly be spoilt for a fight as they seek to improve the course record on Sunday.

posted Tuesday October 8th