Hall, Keflezighi Confirmed For Boston In 2010

Will we finally see the first American winner in 26 years?

The Boston Athletic Association has announced that Ryan Hall and Meb Keflezighi will run in the 2010 Boston Marathon. Hall placed third at the race last year and followed that up with a top-5 finish at the New York City Marathon. Keflezighi came back from 18-months of injury to win the 2009 New York City Marathon.

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Ryan Hall will run his second consecutive Boston Marathon. Photo: ASI

Below is the official press release confirming the news:

BOSTON, MA, December 18, 2009—In celebration of its 25th anniversary as the principal sponsor of the Boston Marathon, John Hancock Financial today announced the signing of top Americans, Meb Keflezighi and Ryan Hall, for the 114th running of the race on April 19, 2010.

Keflezighi and Hall have proven themselves as two of the best distance runners of all time. They have the talent and credentials to challenge Boston’s world-class field as they each seek to become the first male American winner since Greg Meyer in 1983. At previous Boston Marathons, each has placed third: Hall in 2009 and Keflezighi in 2006.

Fresh from his historic marathon win in New York City is Keflezighi, a two-time Olympian and American record holder in the 10,000m. Keflezighi won the silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympic Marathon and holds multiple national titles.

“Boston has a great tradition not only to the running community but also to the rest of the world,” said Keflezighi. “It has always been my ultimate goal to win the Boston Marathon.”

This has been a banner year for Keflezighi who improved his personal best to 2:09:15 with his New York City win and also claimed national titles in cross country, seven miles, half marathon and the marathon.

“Winning in New York was a huge personal triumph and the victory belongs to my family and support team,” said Keflezighi. “I am glad I can help move the continued resurgence of U.S. distance running to the next level. I am living the American dream and feel blessed.”

Hall carries his own impressive qualifications as the second fastest American marathoner of all time with a 2:06:17 personal best. Only former world record holder Khalid Khannouchi has posted a faster U.S. mark. Hall holds American records in the 20K and half marathon. He was first at the 2007 U.S. Olympic Trials, shattering the event record by more than a minute, and went on to place 10th at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Marathon.

“As soon as I finished the 2009 Boston Marathon, I knew I wanted to be back for the 2010 race,” said Hall. “The energy of the crowds far exceeded my expectations, the course was even more challenging than I anticipated, I hurt more than I have hurt in any other race, yet participating in the Boston Marathon was thrilling beyond my greatest expectations.”

Meb Keflezighi will run Boston for the first time since 2006. Photo: PhotoRun.net

Last year Hall was the aggressive early leader taking a seasoned field through 5K in world record pace. He stayed with the leaders throughout the race, but Deriba Merga of Ethiopia prevailed as the winner.

“I’m thankful for the opportunity to come back as part of the John Hancock Elite team and try to master the course that mastered me last year,” added Hall. “I will be one year stronger this April and more importantly one year smarter.”

Both men train with Mammoth Track Club in Mammoth Lakes, California, and have been longtime residents of the state. Hall is originally from Big Bear Lake and graduated from Stanford as a three-time All American in cross country and NCAA champion in the 5,000m. Keflezighi is from San Diego and graduated from UCLA as a four time NCAA champion. In head-to-head marathon competition, Hall has out run Keflezighi 2-1. In their respective third place finishes at Boston, Hall ran a 2:09:40 in 2009 and Keflezighi ran a 2:09:56 in 2006.

With necessary experience on the course and plenty of motivation to become the first American champion in 27 years, the Keflezighi-Hall match up should prove exciting. “Meb and Ryan are among the very best and brightest stars in U.S. distance running,” said Guy Morse, executive director of the B.A.A. “Meb has led the resurging American men since he won the silver medal at the Athens Olympics in 2004, and Ryan’s full potential at the marathon distance is yet to be realized. We look forward to providing the stage for both of them to continue their success and development.”

“John Hancock is committed to securing the strongest fields of runners from around the world for the Boston Marathon each year. It is an added bonus to have Meb and Ryan, two outstanding U.S. runners, as top contenders in the field for the 2010 race,” said Jim Boyle, President of John Hancock Financial Services. “We know they will only add excitement to what is always a thrilling race. Marathoning is a global sport and the prominence of U.S. runners among the world’s elite is a terrific development for fans and for the sport.”

About John Hancock Financial and Manulife Financial Corporation

Manulife Financial is a leading Canadian-based financial services group serving millions of customers in 22 countries and territories worldwide. Operating as Manulife Financial in Canada and Asia, and primarily through John Hancock in the United States, the Company offers clients a diverse range of financial protection products and wealth management services through its extensive network of employees, agents and distribution partners. Funds under management by Manulife Financial and its subsidiaries were Cdn$436.5 billion (US$407.1 billion) as at September 30, 2009. Manulife Financial Corporation trades as ‘MFC’ on the TSX, NYSE and PSE, and under ‘945’ on the SEHK. Manulife Financial can be found on the Internet at www.manulife.com.

The John Hancock unit, through its insurance companies, comprises one of the largest life insurers in the United States. John Hancock offers a broad range of financial products and services, including life insurance, fixed and variable annuities, fixed products, mutual funds, 401(k) plans, long-term care insurance, college savings, and other forms of business insurance. Additional information about John Hancock may be found at www.johnhancock.com.

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