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Epic rematch between Atsede Baysa and Rita Jeptoo looms in marathon

Second place finisher RitJeptoo left first place winner Atsede Baysright cross finish line during Bank AmericChicago MarathChicago Ill. Sunday October

Second place finisher Rita Jeptoo, left, and the first place winner Atsede Baysa, right, cross the finish line during the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in Chicago, Ill., on Sunday, October 7, 2012. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times Media

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Who: 45,000 marathoners registered; nearly 40,000 will run in front of a crowd predicted to be 1.7 million.

When: Elite runners begin at 7:30 a.m. Sunday. Race officially ends six and a half hours after the last runner crosses the start, roughly 3 p.m.

Course: 26.2 miles winding through 29 neighborhoods, beginning at Monroe and Columbus and continuing as far north as Addison, as far west as ­Damen and as far south as 35th, finishing in Grant Park at Columbus.

Television/radio: Ch. 5, 670-AM

Updated: November 13, 2013 6:10AM

A television crew staged a side-by-side shot with Ethiopia’s Atsede Baysa and Kenya’s Rita Jeptoo during the news conference Friday for the elite athletes of Bank of America Chicago Marathon.

You know, a visual follow-up to a true television classic last year: the closest finish in race history (a one-second victory in 2:22:03 by Baysa).

Jeptoo had her own to-the-point take on that memory.

“Last year was last year,’’ she said.

And another take on this year.

“My training is good,’’ she said. “I am ready for Sunday.’’

The elite athletes begin at 7:30 a.m. Sunday for the 36th Chicago Marathon. The women’s field looks very competitive and not just because of Baysa and Jeptoo.

It is expected to be a competitive race, but the women’s course record (2:17:18) is not expected to be challenged. Great Britain’s Paula Radcliffe set the record in 2002.

Baysa is looking beyond Jeptoo. She is also concerned with Japan’s Yukiko Akaba.

“In London, she was No. 3 and I was No. 4,’’ Baysa with a look that indicated she remembered.

Yukiko, who is running her fourth marathon of the year, said, “I would like to set my personal best in Chicago.’’ That would have to be faster than the 2:24:09 she ran in London in 2011.

Baysa and Jeptoo are thinking a good bit faster, more toward 2:20.

The preliminary weather forecast looks good for a fast race. Early indications are temperatures in the 40s for the start for the elite runners, warming to 67 with a slight north wind. The flat course of Chicago is fast.

Executive race director Carey Pinkowski said, “This is probably one of the most athletic fields.’’

On the men’s side, an experienced name returns. Kenya’s Moses Mosop is back with aims of taking back the course record. Ethiopian Tsegaye Kebede set the men’s record (2:04:38) last year. Mosop set the previous course record (2:05:37) the year before.

Wheelchair race

The field for the wheelchair race is nearly double from last year. More than the size of the field is important

“Probably the toughest Chicago field ever,’’ declared Canadian Josh Cassidy, the defending men’s champion.

Defending women’s champion Tatyana McFadden, an American from the famed University of Illinois program, called it, “One of the toughest fields ever.’’

McFadden is chasing history on many levels.

She is going for her third consecutive and fourth overall ­Chicago title. She also won here in 2009. But she is also chasing broader history, trying to win three marathons in a row this year after having won in Boston and London.

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