Chicago contender Zersenay Tadese

Chicago contender Zersenay Tadese

Chicago, Ill. — His name tops a glittering list of champions who have gone on to top another list he hopes to join this Sunday in Chicago.  Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadese is inarguably the greatest half-marathoner in the world with five IAAF World Championship titles at the distance and the two fastest times in history — 58:23 in Lisbon 2010, and 58:33 in The Hague in 2007. But the 31 year-old is now seeking to slash his Z-first initial onto the all-time marathon list at the 2013 Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

Though he has dominated the half-marathon since 2006, Tadese has never popped the marathon performance that his credentials predict.  To date his best is a modest 2:10:41 from London 2012.  Chicago will be his third attempt at the full distance. He debuted at the 2010 London Marathon, where he posted a time of 2:12:03 good for seventh place.

“I have changed my training,” admitted Tadese.  “I have done more long runs. So I hope to run faster on Sunday.”

Besides his five world half-marathon titles, Tadese has shown his form on the track where the three-time Olympian has earned a bronze medal in the 10,000 meters at the 2004 Athens Olympics (he was fifth in Beijing 2008; 6th in London 2012).   He also won silver at the 2009 IAAF World Championships 10,000 in Berlin, and struck gold at the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Mombasa, Kenya in 2007.  Each and every one of those results points toward not just marathon success, but marathon dominance.

Men like Zersenay who take lesser medals on the track, but win at cross country and the half-marathon seem born marathoners.  They may not have the speed to close over the final 400 meters on the track, but they possess a bottomless fount of strength from which to draw. Englishman Steve Jones, the two-time Chicago Marathon champion (1984-`85) and former marathon world record holder was one such runner.  Never fast enough to win at the shorter track distances, the second Jonesy moved to 26.2 miles, he was a killer.  So, too, should Tadese be.  But he hasn’t done it in either of his first two marathons. Continue reading