(01-Dec) -- Eliud Kipchoge, history's most dominant marathoner who holds the world record and two Olympic Marathon gold medals, will make his Boston Marathon debut next April, Boston Athletic Association officials announced this morning. By competing in Boston, the 38 year-old Kenyan will take another step towards winning all six commercial races of the Abbott World Marathon Majors. He's already won in Berlin (2015, 2017, 2018, and 2022), Chicago (2014), London (2015, 2016, 2018, and 2019), and Tokyo (2022). If he were to win in Boston, that would leave only the TCS New York City Marathon for Kipchoge to conquer.
PHOTO: Eliud Kipchoge on his way to setting the World Athletics marathon record of 2:01:09 at the 2022 BMW Berlin Marathon (photo courtesy of NN Running Team)
"I am happy to announce in April I will compete in the Boston Marathon, a new chapter in my Abbott World Marathon Majors journey," Kipchoge said through a statement. "Good luck to all the runners running Boston in 2023."
Despite having a long marathon career which began in Hamburg, Germany, in 2013, Kipchoge has only run one marathon in the United States and only two in the Americas (Chicago plus the Olympic Marathon in Rio de Janeiro in 2016). His mega-star status and place in the public imagination as the only human to run the marathon distance in under two hours (albeit in a special exhibition) will surely lift interest in next April's Boston race beyond the usual running fanatics and Boston sports media.
As he did successfully in the Olympic Marathons in Rio in 2016 and Sapporo in 2021, Kipchoge will have to navigate Boston's notoriously difficult course without the benefit of pacemakers. In his Olympic appearances he has shown that his ability to run tactical races is as good as any athlete who preceded him, but races like Boston run under championship conditions mean there are more variables that Kipchoge and his support team cannot control. The race only offers a bonus for a new course record, so athletes generally ignore the clock when running Boston. That's a far cry from the carefully paced races that Kipchoge has run in Berlin where he set world records in 2018 (2:01:39) and again in 2022 (2:01:09). He also has no experience with the course like the 2022 champion Evans Chebet, another Kenyan, who will also compete next April 17, after winning the TCS New York City Marathon last month.
"To be a champion in Boston is something very special and for me it has even more meaning because it took me quite some time during my career to be competitive enough to finally win the oldest marathon in the world," Chebet said through a media release. "I can't wait to be back and to enjoy the great atmosphere of such a unique and historical race."
Chebet's training partner Benson Kipruto, the 2022 Bank of America Chicago Marathon champion, will also run, organizers said. Kipruto won Boston in 2021.
In all, six previous Boston Marathon champions have been contracted to compete next April:
. Evans Chebet (KEN), 2022
. Benson Kipruto (KEN), 2021
. Des Linden (USA), 2018
. Lelisa Desisa (ETH), 2013 and 2015)
. Edna Kiplagat (KEN), 2017
. Atsede Baysa (ETH), 2016
Finally, organizers said that the reigning World Athletics marathon champion Gotytom Gebreslase of Ethiopia, will also be competing. Like Kipchoge, she'll be making her Boston debut. The 27 year-old has only run four marathons during her career, but she has finished on the podium at all of them, including two victories.
Today's announcement comes on the heels of yesterday's news that 30-year B.A.A. veteran Jack Fleming had been elevated permanently to the post of president and CEO after serving in that role on an interim basis since last May. He was clearly enthusiastic about today's athlete announcement.
"Each year, the B.A.A. prides itself on bringing the best runners in the world together to battle on the famed course from Hopkinton to Boston," said Fleming through a media release. "History and heritage are two cornerstones of the Boston Marathon. This year's race brings those elements to the forefront as world record holder and Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge and six Boston Marathon champions battle on Patriots' Day. The world will be watching Boston with great anticipation to see how the competition plays out."
The Boston Marathon, founded in 1897, takes place every year on Patriots' Day, the third Monday in April. Due to the pandemic it was held virtually in 2020, then in-person in 2021, but in October because of the Omicron spike early in 2021. The race returned to the normal Patriots' Day schedule in 2022.