By Chrös McDougall | Oct. 05, 2018, 11:21 a.m. (ET)

Gwen Jorgensen trains in preparation for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon set to take place Oct. 7, 2018 in Chicago.

 

Galen Rupp aims to defend his title while Gwen Jorgensen looks to make a strong statement at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Sunday.

Rupp, a three-time Olympian and two-time medalist, won the 2017 Chicago Marathon, becoming the first U.S. man to do so since 2002. The 32-year-old comes into this year’s race aiming to become the first American man to defend his title, though he’ll have plenty of competition.

Among the other elite men are Rupp’s longtime training partner Mo Farah of Great Britain, who like Rupp moved up to the marathon after a successful career on the track, and folk hero Yuki Kawauchi of Japan, who won this year's Boston Marathon despite working a 40-hour week at his day job.

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Jorgensen, meanwhile, enters the race with a mostly blank slate.

The 2016 Olympic champion in women’s triathlon, Jorgensen is now aiming to win a 2020 Olympic gold medal in marathon. Chicago marks her second marathon, though her first since turning pro in the discipline.

In her first marathon, Jorgensen ran 2:41:01 to place 14th at the 2016 New York City Marathon, a feat that came just nine weeks after she became the first American to win triathlon gold. She took most of 2017 off while pregnant with her first child, son Stanley, who was born that August, and has since become a full-time marathoner.

The most experienced U.S. women, Jordan Hasay and Amy Cragg, both had to withdraw, putting even more attention on Jorgensen’s result. Among her competition is two-time Chicago champ Florence Kiplagat of Kenya and Roza Dereje of Ethiopia.

Tatyana McFadden leads the U.S. wheelchair contingent. A 17-time Paralympic medalist, McFadden holds the course record and won all four marathon majors — London, Boston, Chicago and New York — from 2013 to 2016. She’s going after an eighth consecutive win at Chicago.

U.S. teammate and three-time Chicago champ Amanda McGrory is among her top competition.

On the men’s side, five-time Paralympic medalist Josh George goes after his fifth Chicago win.

The elite field also includes Joan Benoit Samuelson, who made history at the 1984 Los Angeles Games when she won the first Olympic women’s marathon. The native of Cape Elizabeth, Maine, who is now 61, won the Chicago Marathon in 1985. She’s aiming to break the world record for her 60-64 age group.

Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic movement for TeamUSA.org since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.