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Posted: March 31, 2009  : Add to Mixx!

Athletics: 2008-2009 World Marathon Majors Series resumes in April with Wanjiru and Mikitenko atop the leaderboard

The second half of the 2008-09 World Marathon Majors series continues this spring as reigning men's champion Martin Lel of Kenya returns to defend his Flora London Marathon title on April 26 against one of the strongest fields ever assembled for a big city race. A head to head showdown pits the Olympic champion and World Marathon Majors (WMM) Series leader Sammy Wanjiru (40 points) of Kenya against his compatriot and closest rival, the defending Flora London Marathon champion Lel (26 points), on the streets of the British capital.

World Marathon Majors excitement kicks off six days earlier on April 20, Patriots' Day in Boston, when former WMM Series champion Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot of Kenya seeks to become the first four time consecutive champion in the Boston Marathon's 113-year history. Boston's sponsor John Hancock Financial has recruited a field which will see Cheruiyot, who won the first WMM Series (2006-2007), facing stiff competition in Evans Cheruiyot, the 2008 Bank of America Chicago Marathon champion, and American star Ryan Hall, who enters Boston having run the fastest of any man in the field. The two Cheruiyots are not related, but the countrymen from Kenya are in a five-way tie for third place in the World Marathon Majors standings with 25 points. Abderrahim Goumri of Morocco is entered in London and also has 25 points.

This year's Flora London Marathon includes 10 men who have run faster than 2:08:00. Boston, the world's oldest annual marathon, remains the place where the coveted title is career-transforming.

Last fall, theWMM Series women's race came down to the final day of the season at the ING New York City Marathon in November before Irina Mikitenko of Germany claimed the $500,000 prize.

With 50 points, Mikitenko is also leading the 2008-2009 series. She has a 20-point advantage over Alevtina Biktimirova of Russia and Constantina Dita of Romania. Dita and Catherine Ndereba (16 points), who has won two World Championship gold medals and two Olympic silver medals, will contest the London race. Boston's most recent two champions - Lidiya Grigoryeva (2007) of Russia and Dire Tune (2008) of Ethiopia - are among a tie for fourth place with 25 points, and both are returning there this April. Almost all of the women on the top of the current WMM Series leader board with the exception of the injured Paula Radcliffe will be in action next month. Also running Boston is American sensation Kara Goucher, who placed third in her marathon debut last year at the ING New York City Marathon.

All four previous Series champions are in the hunt for the next championship. Mikitenko and Lel were the second pair of WMM champions to be named after 2006-2007 victors Wami and Cheruiyot.

The World Marathon Majors series is proving popular with more than the elites. While the five mass participatory city races draw in excess of 300,000 entrants each year, a growing swell of recreational runners aspire to compete in all five events.

For the World Marathon Majors Series scoring system and the starting fields of both the Boston Marathon and the Flora London Marathon, go to: WorldMarathonMajors.com

UPCOMING EVENTS 2009

April 20             BostonMarathon
April 26             Flora London Marathon
Aug. 22-23        IAAF World Track & Field Champ. (Berlin)
Sept. 20            real,- BERLIN-MARATHON
Oct. 11             Bank of AmericaChicagoMarathon
Nov. 1               ING New York CityMarathon

UPCOMING EVENTS 2010
April 19             Boston Marathon
April 25             Virgin London Marathon
Sept. 26            real,- BERLIN-MARATHON
Oct. 10             Bank of America Chicago Marathon
Nov. 7               ING New York Cit yMarathon

2008-‘09 LEADERBOARD

Men
1. Samuel Wanjiru (KEN) 40 pts.
2nd London 2008 2:05:24 15 pts.
1st Olympic Games 2008 2:06:32 25 pts.
2. Martin Lel (KEN) 26 pts.
3. Evans Cheruiyot (KEN) 25 pts.
3. Robert K. Cheruiyot (KEN) 25 pts.
3. Haile Gebrselassie (ETH) 25 pts.
3. Marilson Gomes dos Santos (BRA) 25 pts.
3. Abderrahim Goumri (MAR) 25 pts.
8. Abderrahime Bouramdane (MAR) 16 pts.
9. Jaouad Gharib (MAR) 15 pts.
9. James Kwambai (KEN) 15 pts.
9. David Mandago (KEN) 15 pts.
12. Timothy Cherigat (KEN) 10 pts.
12. Khalid El Boumlili (MAR) 10 pts.
12. Charles Kamathi (KEN) 10 pts.
12. Tsegaye Kebede (ETH) 10 pts.
12. Daniel Rono (KEN) 10 pts.
17. Emmanuel Mutai (KEN) 6 pts.
18. Gashaw Asfaw Melese (ETH) 5 pts.
18. Mariko Kipchumba (KEN) 5 pts.
18. Martin Lauret (NED) 5 pts.
18. Deriba Merga (ETH) 5 pts.
18. Paul Tergat (KEN) 5 pts.
23. Kasime Adillo (ETH) 1 pt.
23. Mesefi n Adimasu (ETH) 1 pt.
23. Ryan Hall (USA) 1 pt.

Women
1. Irina Mikitenko (GER) 50 pts.
1st London 2008 2:24:14 25 pts.
1st Berlin 2008 2:19:19 25 pts.
2. Alevtina Biktimirova (RUS) 30 pts.
2. Constantina Tomescu-Dita (ROU) 30 pts.
4. Lidiya Grigoryeva (RUS) 25 pts.
4. Paula Radcliffe (GBR) 25 pts.
4. Dire Tune (ETH) 25 pts.
7. Catherine Ndereba (KEN) 16 pts.
7. Ludmila Petrova (RUS) 16 pts.
7. Askale Tafa Magarsa (ETH) 16 pts.
10. Rita Jeptoo (KEN) 15 pts.
10. Svetlana Zakharova (RUS) 15 pts.
12. Kara Goucher (USA) 10 pts.
12. Helena Kiprop (KEN) 10 pts.
12. Kiyoko Shimahara (JPN) 10 pts.
12. Gete Wami (ETH) 10 pts.
12. Chunxiu Zhou (CHN) 10 pts.
17. Rose Cheruiyot (KEN) 5 pts.
17. Salina Kosgei (KEN) 5 pts.
17. Jelena Prokopcuka (LAT) 5 pts.
17. Xiaolin Zhu (CHN) 5 pts.
21. Desiree Davila (USA) 1 pt.
21. Martha Komu (KEN) 1 pt.
21. Gulnara Vigovskaya (RUS) 1 pt.

2007-2008 CHAMPIONS WITH POINT TOTALS
Men
Martin Lel (KEN) 75 pts.
1st London 2007 2:07:41 25 pts.
1st New York 2007 2:09:04 25 pts.
1st London 2008 2:05:15 25 pts.
5th Olympics 2008 2:10:24 1 pt.
Women
Irina Mikitenko (GER) 65 pts.*
2nd Berlin 2007 2:24:51 15 pts.
1st London 2008 2:24:14 25 pts.
1st Berlin 2008 2:19:19 25 pts.

*Mikitenko finished the Series tied with Gete Wami (ETH) with 65 points. A vote of the five WMM race directors determined Mikitenko to be the WMM Series Champion.

Points are awarded on the following scale: 1st = 25; 2nd = 15; 3rd = 10; 4th = 5; 5th = 1


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