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Shalane Flanagan runs at Chicago's Rock 'n' Roll Running Festival

The Rock 'n' Roll races are no strangers to having celebrities on course. Meb Keflezighi, the 2014 Boston Marathon winner and 2004 Olympic medalist, ran the San Diego race earlier this year. Kate Gosselin from Kate Plus 8 ran the Las Vegas race a few years ago. Chicago's race has watched Kara Goucher, Giuliana Rancic, Al Roker, Biggest Loser competitors and winner (Danni from season 14), and The Bachelor Andy Baldwin cross its finish line over the years. Not to fall short at this year's race, Shalane Flanagan will be competing at Sunday's 6th annual Rock 'n' Roll Chicago Half Marathon presented by HumanaVitality.

Flanagan, who won a bronze medal in the 10,000 meters at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and PR'd at the Boston Marathon with a 2:22:02, will lead two days of running at the first ever Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Festival in Chicago the weekend of July 18-20. She shook out her legs this morning at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago 5k, the first time the event held a 5k option for runners on Saturday as well as Sunday. Flanagan has her eyes set on winning the half marathon on Sunday, July 20.

“From Friday night’s Billy Joel concert at Wrigley Field to Saturday’s 5k and Sunday’s half-marathon, it’s going to be an incredible weekend for running in Chicago,” said Flanagan, who set her half-marathon personal record (PR) of 1:08:31 at Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans last year. “This will be my first step towards a marathon this fall and I'm excited to see where my fitness is at after my recent training in Park City. It will also be a treat for me to shakeout with the Chicago running community at Saturday’s 5k and enjoy the amazing views of the downtown skyline along the city’s beautiful lakefront.”

Sure, Chicago offers much flatter terrain than what you'd find in Park City--and it's going to be easier to breathe--but Flanagan will have some competition Sunday morning. Other contenders in the women’s race include Lindsey Scherf (1:11:45) of Chapel Hill, N.C.; Danish Olympian Jessica Draskau-Petersson (1:12:52); and USATF Masters Marathon Champion Nuta Olaru (1:08:59), a former runner-up at the Chicago Marathon. The women’s event record is 1:08:05 by Kara Goucher in 2008, when she finished in first place overall.

Chicago's Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon is in its 6th year and will welcome more than 20,000 runners over race weekend. This year marks the first time that race weekend will include two days of running with 5k events taking place on Saturday and Sunday. All finishers will earn a medal in each race, however runners who participate in both Saturday and Sunday’s events will earn a special Remix Challenge medal to commemorate their accomplishment.

“To have Shalane Flanagan, one of America’s best runners, earn the first ever Remix Challenge medal is truly going to be something special,” said Tracy Sundlun, SVP and co-founder of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series. “Chicago has one of the most passionate running communities in the world and some of the most knowledgeable fans in the sport. With two days of running and multiple concerts taking place in the city, it’s going to be a summertime celebration unlike any other.”

Each running event will include a post race beer garden, entertainment on course and a finish line celebration party. Sunday’s races begin at 6:30 am at the intersection of Columbus Dr. and Monroe, with 13.1 and 3.1-mile courses running on the streets of downtown Chicago. You can still register for the event by visiting the Health & Fitness Expo at McCormick Place, which is open until 5 p.m. today. For more details, visit RunRocknRoll.com or follow @RunRocknRoll on Twitter.