You can tell Hirut Guangul sort of likes the Quad-Cities Marathon.
The 24-year-old Ethiopian runner has run the race three times and has won the women’s championship every time, recording three of the five fastest times ever recorded in the event.
She will be back again Sunday for the 19th annual running of the race and will be attempting to become the first runner — either male or female — ever to win it four times.
Guangul set the course record of 2 hours, 35 minutes, 7 seconds on her first visit to Quad-Cities in 2012 and came back to win it again in 2013 and 2015. She was suspended for four months by USADA in 2014 because of an anti-doping violation.
She has resumed her domination this year by winning three North American marathons, at Buffalo, Cleveland and Vancouver.
The men’s favorite for Sunday’s marathon, which begins and ends in front of John Deere Commons but winds its way through five cities in two states, figures to be 38-year-old Sammy Malakwen of Kenya.
Malakwen won the Q-C race in 2014 with the second best time in the race’s history (2 hours, 15 minutes, 42 seconds) and took second a year ago. Since then, he has added a second-place finish in the Milwaukee Marathon last fall and a victory in the Fargo Marathon earlier this year.
Among his primary challengers for the $3,500 first prize will be Ethiopia’s Abu Kebede Diriba, who was third in the race a year ago, and Werkuneh Seyoum Aboye, who was fourth. Kenya’s Hillary Too recently won the Woodlands Marathon and was victorious in the Richmond Marathon last year and his countryman, Stanley Boen, won this year’s Utah Valley Marathon and last year’s Wichita Marathon.
In the half-marathon, defending women’s champion Jebichi Yator of Kenya returns after registering the second fastest time ever (1:16:15) in winning a year ago.
The best bet for an American victory may be in the men’s half-marathon, where Brandon Mull of Chicago is expected to challenge Kenya’s Benson Cheruiyot, Evans Chelanga and Richard Kandie.