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New York City Marathon preview: U.S. stars are underdogs to cap epic marathon season

Galen Rupp

EUGENE, OREGON - JULY 17: Galen Rupp of Team United States competes in the Men’s Marathon on day three of the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 at Hayward Field on July 17, 2022 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

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The fall marathon season already produced the men’s world record, the second-fastest women’s time ever and the women’s American record. And it’s not over yet.

The New York City Marathon, the world’s largest annual major marathon with more than 50,000 finishers (before COVID-19 restriction years), is Sunday.

New York City produces fewer record times due to the hilly course and lack of pacers. The world’s top marathoners, including world record holders Eliud Kipchoge and Brigid Kosgei of Kenya, are absent.

But it once again has the most decorated American fields of the fall marathons.

It could find a way to deliver a newsworthy follow-up to September’s Berlin Marathon, where Kipchoge lowered his world record by 30 seconds, and October’s Chicago Marathon, where Kenyan Ruth Chepngetich missed the women’s world record by 14 seconds and Emily Sisson took 43 seconds off the American record.

Galen Rupp, a two-time Olympic medalist and the last American man to win a major marathon (Chicago 2017), makes his debut in the five-borough race.

Rupp, 36, placed 19th in July’s world championships in his native Oregon, stopping four or five times in the last several miles while not at his best physically. He missed training time before worlds due to a herniated disk and pinched nerve in his back. He said Thursday that he feels a lot better now but sometimes has a “bad day.”

“My leg just doesn’t work right sometimes,” Rupp said at a press conference, referencing his nerve problems. “Those are the days where it’s like, we’ve got to just back off, do some more exercises, stretch things out, get it treated. ... It sounds bad, I guess, when I’m hearing myself talk about it right now, but things have really, the last couple of weeks, have been going all right.”

The last U.S. male runner to win New York City was Meb Keflezighi in 2009. This race includes four of the five fastest active American men (Rupp, Leonard Korir, Scott Fauble and Abdi Abdirahman, a 45-year-old, five-time Olympian in his final marathon.)

The favorites are Kenyans Evans Chebet, the reigning Boston Marathon champion, and Albert Korir, the defending New York City champion. Kenyan men won the first five annual major marathons this year (Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago) and on Sunday can complete the first sweep since 2011 (before Tokyo was added as a major).

U.S. women face similar long odds at a win, but their chances improved on Oct. 14. That’s when defending champion Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya withdrew citing an unspecified injury. On the same day as that announcement, Keira D’Amato, the second-fastest American in history, was announced as a field addition.

Still, the favorites are Kenyans (Hellen Obiri, a two-time Olympic 5000m silver medalist in her marathon debut, and 42-year-old Edna Kiplagat) and Ethiopians (world champion Gotytom Gebreslase and debutant Senbere Teferi) as well as Kenyan-born Israeli Lonah Salpeter.

D’Amato races her third marathon in the last 16 weeks. Des Linden, the last U.S. woman to win a major marathon (Boston 2018), is now 39 and looking for her first marathon top-10 since placing fourth at the February 2020 Olympic Trials. Aliphine Tuliamuk, the Olympic Trials winner, races her first marathon since dropping out of the Olympics seven months after childbirth.

“The New York City Marathon course is an equalizer,” Tuliamuk said in a press conference. “I’m not intimidated by people who have run faster than me.”

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