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Shobukhova seeks fourth title

Russia’s Liliya Shobukhova will attempt to win an unprecedented fourth consecutive Chicago Marathon women’s title in today’s 35th running of the event.

Shobukhova, unbeaten in three Chicago starts, was unable to finish the London Olympic marathon in August due to stomach cramps but will be among the elite favourites in a field of 45,000 runners.

“It was heartbreaking to withdraw from the Olympic Marathon after I had trained so hard and my preparation had gone so well,” Shobukhova said.

“But I am still very fit and in good health. I’m going to focus all my energy on a great performance at the Chicago Marathon.”

Shobukhova ran the third-fastest time in history last year to win in 2 hours 18 mins 20 secs.

“There’s no place that I feel more comfortable than when I am competing in Chicago,” she said.

“I love the course and appreciate the support from the fans. I’m especially motivated to win for the fourth time in a row.”

The Russian’s rivals will include Kenya’s Lucy Kabuu, who owns a personal best of 2:19:34, and Ethiopians Ejegayehu Dibaba, last year’s runner-up in 2:22:09, and Weknesh Kidane, the 2003 world runner-up.

On the men’s side, Kenya’s Wesley Korir, last year’s Chicago runner-up and this year’s Boston Marathon champion, will be a favourite.

Ethiopian Tsegaye Kebede, third in the 2008 Olympic mara-thon, and Kenya’s Levy Matebo, whose 2:05:16 from last year in Frankfurt is the fastest time in the field, are also expected to contend for the men’s title.

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