(10-Jan) -- Nine previous open division champions and seven wheelchair division winners have been contracted to run the 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15, organizers announced today. John Hancock, the event's principal sponsor which funds the race's elite field, said that that a total of 82 elite athletes would take part this year representing 15 countries. The race is the fifth stop of the seven-race Abbott World Marathon Majors Series XII which concludes in Berlin in September.
PHOTO: Yuki Kawauchi of Japan and Desiree Linden of Charlevoix, Mich., raise the winner's trophy after the 2018 Boston Marathon (photo by Jane Monti for Race Results Weekly)
"This year we welcome back 16 returning champions to challenge an accomplished international field of Olympians, world champions and Abbott World Marathon Majors winners," said John Hancock chief marketing officer Barbara Goose through a statement. "We recognize the commitment and hard work it takes to compete at the highest level of the sport and look forward to another compelling race in Boston."
The open men's division boasts 29 athletes, Hancock officials said. Leading the list are previous champions Yuki Kawauchi of Japan (2018), Geoffrey Kirui of Kenya (2017), Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia (2013 and 2015), Lemi Berhanu of Ethiopia (2016) and Wesley Korir of Kenya (2012). Three athletes with sub-2:05 personal bests --Lawrence Cherono of Kenya, and Sisay Lemma and Solomon Deksisa of Ethiopia-- should be their top challengers. Cherono, last October's TCS Amsterdam Marathon winner, is the fastest man with a 2:04:06 career best. In all, the men's race has a dozen athletes with sub-2:07 personal bests.
There are also ten American men in the elite field (previously announced) led by Olympians Dathan Ritzenhein, Abdi Abdirahman and Jared Ward. Ritzenhein was forced to scratch from last year's race with an injury.
The men's wheelchair division has previous champions Marcel Hug of Switzerland, Ernst Van Dyk of South Africa, Masazumi Soejima and Hiroyuki Yamamoto of Japan, and Josh Cassidy of Canada. British star David Weir, an eight-time Virgin Money London Marathon winner, will be trying for his first Boston Marathon title. Americans Daniel Romanchuk and Josh George should also be in the lead pack vying for the win. Romanchuk won both the Bank of America Chicago Marathon and the TCS New York City Marathon in 2018.
On the women's side, Hancock officials have recruited a total of 22 elite women in the open division, and 11 have personal best times under 2:23:00. American Des Linden of Charlevoix, Mich., is the race's reigning champion and will be returning to defend her title. The other previous Boston winners in the field are all from Kenya: Edna Kiplagat (2017), Caroline Rotich (2015), and Sharon Cherop (2012).
Three very strong Ethiopians who have sub-2:20 credentials --Aselefech Mergia, Mare Dibaba and Worknesh Degefa-- should also be in the mix for the win. Mergia is a three-time Dubai Marathon winner and world championships bronze medalist; Dibaba was the 2015 world marathon champion; and Degefa was the 2017 Dubai Marathon winner.
Besides Linden, the race has a strong USA field (previously announced), typical in the year preceding the USA Olympic Trials when running Boston is impossible: Jordan Hasay, Sara Hall, Lindsay Flanagan, Becky Wade, Sarah Crouch and Sarah Sellers. Sellers was the surprise runner-up at last year's race which was held in frigid temperatures and driving rain which caused more than half of the elite field to drop out.
In the women's wheelchair division the incomparable American Tatyana McFadden --a five-time race winner and the defending champion-- will be back. Her key rival should be Switzerland's Manuela Schar, the race's course record holder (1:28:17) and the 2017 winner. Americans Susannah Scaroni and Amanda McGrory, and Australian Madison De Rozario are the other top contenders.
"Each year, a collection of the world's best runners descends on the start in Hopkinton with the goal of becoming Boston Marathon champion," observed Tom Grilk, the CEO of race founders and organizers the Boston Athletic Association. "John Hancock has once again assembled an elite team that will ensure a fiercely competitive race."
The complete field listing is below (descending order by personal best time):
MEN'S ELITE DIVISION:
Lawrence Cherono, Kenya, 2:04:06 (Amsterdam, 2018) Sisay Lemma, Ethiopia, 2:04:08 (Dubai, 2018) Lemi Berhanu, Ethiopia, 2:04:33 (Dubai, 2016) Solomon Deksisa, Ethiopia, 2:04:40 (Amsterdam, 2018) Lelisa Desisa, Ethiopia, 2:04:45 (Dubai, 2013) Kenneth Kipkemoi, Kenya, 2:05:44 (Rotterdam, 2018) Felix Kandie, Kenya, 2:06:03 (Seoul, 2017) Geoffrey Kirui, Kenya, 2:06:27 (Amsterdam, 2016) Festus Talam, Kenya, 2:06:13 (Eindhoven, 2017) Wesley Korir, Kenya, 2:06:13 (Chicago, 2012) Philemon Rono, Kenya, 2:06:52 (Toronto, 2017) Hiroto Inoue, Japan, 2:06:54 (Tokyo, 2018) Benson Kipruto, Kenya, 2:07:11 (Seoul, 2018) Ghirmay Ghebreslassie, Eritrea, 2:07:46 (London, 2016) Dathan Ritzenhein, USA, 2:07:47 (Chicago, 2012) Yuki Kawauchi, Japan, 2:08:14 (Seoul, 2013) Zersenay Tadese, Eritrea, 2:08:46 (Berlin, 2018) Abdi Abdirahman (40+), USA, 2:08:56 (Chicago, 2006) Mohamed Reda El Aaraby, Morocco, 2:09:16 (Chicago, 2018) Hayato Sonoda, Japan, 2:09:34 (Oita, 2018) Scott Overall, Great Britain, 2:10:55 (Berlin, 2011) Jeffrey Eggleston, USA, 2:10:52 (Gold Coast, 2014) Jared Ward, USA, 2:11:30 (Rio de Janeiro, 2016) Elkanah Kibet, USA, 2:11:31 (Chicago, 2015) Timothy Ritchie, USA, 2:11:56 (Sacramento, 2017) Shadrack Biwott, USA, 2:12:01 (New York City, 2016) Scott Fauble, USA, 2:12:28 (New York City, 2018) Aaron Braun, USA, 2:12:54 (Houston, 2015) Brian Shrader, USA, 2:13:31 (Sacramento, 2018)
WOMEN'S OPEN DIVISION:
Aselefech Mergia, Ethiopia, 2:19:31 (Dubai, 2012) Edna Kiplagat, Kenya, 2:19:50 (London, 2012) Mare Dibaba, Ethiopia, 2:19:52 (Dubai, 2012) Worknesh Degefa, Ethiopia, 2:19:53 (Dubai, 2018) Meskerem Assefa, Ethiopia, 2:20:36 (Frankfurt, 2018) Jordan Hasay, USA, 2:20:57 (Chicago, 2017) Belaynesh Oljira, Ethiopia, 2:21:53 (Frankfurt, 2018) Sharon Cherop, Kenya, 2:22:28 (Berlin, 2013) Desiree Linden, USA, 2:22:38 (Boston, 2011) Marta Megra, Ethiopia, 2:22:35 (Toronto, 2018) Betsy Saina, Kenya, 2:22:56 (Paris, 2018) Caroline Rotich, Kenya, 2:23:22 (Chicago, 2012) Sara Hall, USA, 2:26:20 (Ottawa, 2018) Eva Vrabcova, Czech Republic, 2:26:31 (Berlin, 2018) NR Sally Kipyego, USA, 2:28:01 (New York City, 2016) Krista Duchene, Canada, 2:28:32 (Toronto, 2013) Alyson Dixon, Great Britain, 2:29:06 (London, 2017) Lindsay Flanagan, USA, 2:29:25 (Frankfurt, 2018) Becky Wade, USA, 2:30:41 (Sacramento, 2013) Sarah Crouch, USA, 2:32:27 (Chicago, 2018) Sarah Sellers, USA, 2:36:37 (New York City, 2018) Mary Wacera, Kenya, 66:29 (Houston, 2016)
MEN'S WHEELCHAIR DIVISION:
Marcel Hug, Switzerland, 1:18:04 (Boston, 2017) Ernst van Dyk, South Africa, 1:18:04 (Boston, 2017) Josh Cassidy, Canada, 1:18:25 (Boston, 2012) Masazumi Soejima, Japan, 1:18:50 (Boston, 2011) Hiroyuki Yamamoto, Japan, 1:19:32 (Boston, 2017) Hiroki Nishida, Japan, 1:20:28 (Boston, 2017) Kota Hokinoue, Japan, 1:20:54 (Seoul, 2013) Joshua George, USA, 1:21:47 (Boston, 2017) Aaron Pike, USA, 1:22:09 (Boston, 2017) Ryota Yoshida, Japan, 1:23:18 (Boston, 2017) Krige Schabort, USA, 1:23:44 (Boston, 2012) James Senbeta, USA, 1:24:27 (Boston, 2017) David Weir, Great Britain, 1:26:17 (Boston, 2016) Daniel Romanchuk, USA, 1:26:26 (Boston, 2017) Brian Siemann, USA, 1:26:46 (Boston, 2017) Patrick Monahan, Ireland, 1:29:10 (Seoul, 2017) Johnboy Smith, Great Britain, 1:29:44 (Berlin, 2018) Tristan Smyth, Canada, 1:29:53 (Berlin, 2018)
WOMEN'S WHEELCHAIR DIVISION:
Manuela Schar, Switzerland, 1:28:17 (Boston, 2017) Amanda McGrory, USA, 1:33:13 (Boston, 2017) Susannah Scaroni, USA, 1:33:17 (Boston, 2017) Tatyana McFadden, USA, 1:35:05 (Boston, 2017) Sandra Graf, Switzerland, 1:35:44 (Padua, 2008) Margriet Van Den Broek, Netherlands, 1:38:33 (Boston, 2017) Madison De Rozario, Australia, 1:39:22 (Chicago, 2017) Katrina Gerhard, USA, 1:40:34 (Boston, 2017) Diane Roy, Canada, 1:40:37 (Beijing, 2008) Arielle Rausin, USA, 1:41:26 (Boston, 2017) Aline de Rocha, Brazil, 1:41:40 (Duluth, 16) Eliza Ault-Connell, Australia, 1:44:13 (Gold Coast, 2018) Michelle Wheeler, USA, 1:45:22 (Oita, 2018)