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Kenenisa Bekele on course for Chicago Marathon record

Updated: August 12, 2014 11:44PM

Kenenisa Bekele’s debut in a World Marathon Majors event is something of note, even by Bank of America Chicago Marathon standards.

For God’s sake, his goal in Chicago on Oct. 12 is the course record.

Bekele continues the long, rich split personality of the Chicago Marathon, under two decades-plus of Carey Pinkowski as executive race director, as a gathering spot for the world’s best at the front end while the bulk of the race is ordinary or charity marathoners.

Bekele is a three-time Olympic gold medalist, 18-time World Championship medalist and current world-record holder in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters.

The 32-year-old Ethiopian will be competing in his second marathon. Bekele’s five previous races on American soil have been on track.

He should be something to watch on Chicago’s flat course. His debut in the marathon came at the 2014 Schneider Electric Paris Marathon, noted for several uphill runs.

All Bekele did in Paris was run the sixth-fastest marathon debut and set the course record in 2 hours, 5 minutes, 3 seconds.

‘‘I am looking forward to coming back to America and to running fast,’’ Bekele said in a release. ‘‘I have heard great things about the fans in Chicago and the course. After my win in Paris, I understand the marathon distance a lot better, and I will bring that experience to Chicago. I know Chicago has a very fast course, and my goal is to break the course record of 2:03:45. After that, everything is possible.’’

‘‘Kenenisa Bekele is one of the best, most versatile and exciting athletes on the global stage today,’’ Pinkowski said. ‘‘Anytime an athlete of Bekele’s caliber lines up to race, course records and world records are in jeopardy. We expect Bekele to put on a speed show, and it’s not out of the question to think that Bekele could bring the world record back home to Chicago.’’

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