Defending Champions Kilel And Mutai Return To Boston

Geoffrey Mutai after winning the 2011 Giro di Castelbuono in Sicily (Photo courtesy of the Giro di Castelbuono)

Geoffrey Mutai ran the fastest unofficial marathon there last year.

Written by: David Monti

(c) 2011 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

Geoffrey Mutai ran the fastest marathon in history last year in Boston, breaking the tape in 2:03:02. Photo: PhotoRun.net

Reigning champions Geoffrey Mutai and Caroline Kilel will return to the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 16, to defend their titles, organizers reported Thursday.  The race, held every year on Patriots’ Day from Hopkinton to Boston, will be contested for the 116th time this year.

Without the aid of pacemakers Mutai, 30, the #1-ranked marathoner in the world for 2011 by Track & Field News, swept to victory at Boston last year in an improbable course record of 2:03:02, the fastest marathon ever run on a certified course. The self-coached athlete who is sponsored by adidas, followed-up his Boston victory by winning the ING New York City Marathon last November, also setting a course record there (2:05:06).  He became the first man ever to set Boston and New York City Marathon course records in the same year.

“I want to return to Boston to defend my title,” the Kenyan explained through a statement. “I very much liked the race in 2011, because I made the best time ever run in the marathon.”

As part of his training, Mutai will ready himself for Boston by running the San Blas Half Marathon in Puerto Rico on Feb. 5. He will return to Kenya after that to complete his training for Boston.

Kilel, also a 30 year-old Kenyan, earned her Boston victory in a three-way sprint against American Desiree Davila and compatriot Sharon Cherop. She set a personal best 2:22:36, just two seconds up on Davila and and six seconds ahead of Cherop, then tumbled to the pavement in exhaustion.

“I have chosen the Boston Marathon because, of course, I had a good experience by winning in 2011,” said the adidas-sponsored Kilel, who wears her hair in intricate braids. “I hope I can do the same this year.”

The 2012 edition of the Boston Marathon, America’s oldest, will mark the 27th year of financial sponsorship by John Hancock Financial, whose investment in the race makes the participation of the professional athletes possible. With $150,000 going to the race winners, Boston has the highest first place prize in marathon running amongst the five commercial events of the World Marathon Majors, and the largest overall prize purse.

“Throughout our more than quarter century sponsorship of the Boston Marathon, John Hancock has each year honored its commitment to bring the world’s top runners to the race, and knowing the defending champions will return in 2012 is an excellent start to the new year,” said Rob Friedman, head of sponsorship and event marketing at John Hancock.

Boston was the third-largest marathon in the United States in 2011 in terms of finishers (23,879), and according to the independent Association of Road Racing Statisticians the race had the most competitive mens’ field of any marathon in the world last year with 844 quality points, just edging the ING New York City Marathon by five points. Boston’s women’s field was ranked third with 847 points, behind only the Virgin London Marathon (919) and the World Championships (851).

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