Boston Marathon Releases Elite Fields

Defending champions Geoffrey Mutai (left) and Caroline Kilel will have their hands full at this year's Boston Marathon. Photo: PhotoRun.net

Defending champions will face strong competition on April 16.

(c) 2012 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

Organizers of the Boston Marathon released their elite fields today, and defending champions Geoffrey Mutai and Caroline Kilel of Kenya will be facing very strong competition as they run from Hopkinton to Boston’s Back Bay in the 116th edition of America’s oldest marathon. The event, part of the five-race World Marathon Majors series, is scheduled for Monday, April 16, Patriots’ Day in the state of Massachusetts.

Ethiopia’s Gebre Gebremariam, the 2010 ING New York City Marathon from Ethiopia, and Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot, the 2010 Boston Marathon champion from Kenya, lead the list of Mutai’s challengers. Gebremariam ran Boston last year, finishing third in a personal best 2:04:53, and Kiprono Cheruiyot –who ran his career best time of 2:05:52 when he won Boston two years ago– finished sixth last year in 2:06:43.

Also competing from Kenya, organizers said, are 2011 Rotterdam Marathon winner Wilson Chebet (2:05:27 PB), 2011 Bank of America Chicago Marathon second place finisher Wesley Korir (2:06:15), last year’s third-placer at Chicago Bernard Kipyego (2:06:29), 2011 Fukuoka Marathon champion Josphat Ndambiri (2:07:36), 2011 BMW Frankfurt Marathon runner-up Levy Matebo (2:05:16), 2012 Xiamen Marathon winner Peter Kamais (2:07:37), 2011 Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon champion David Barmasai (2:07:18), and 2011 Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half-Marathon champion Mathew Kisorio (2:10:58).

Two Americans, Jason Hartmann (2:11:06 PB) and Antonio Vega (2:13:47) are also entered. Hartmann finished a disappointing 32nd at the USA Olympic Trials Marathon in Houston last month, while Vega was forced to skip the Trials because an injury last year made it impossible for him to train and be ready.

“One of the cornerstones of any top marathon in the world is the elite field,” commented Boston Athletic Association executive director Tom Grilk, whose organization founded and owns the Boston Marathon. “Through the superb collaborative efforts with our long-standing partner, John Hancock, and its recruitment excellence over the past 27 years, the Boston Marathon has continued to thrive on fast times and a true competitive nature. John Hancock’s sponsorship of our elite runners in this year’s event will no doubt once again inspire all those associated with the race. It is a model partnership that works extraordinarily well for everyone.”

The women’s field will also be power-packed. Chasing Kilel will be Kenyans Sharon Cherop and Caroline Rotich. Cherop, the world championships marathon bronze medalist from Daegu last summer, also finished third at Boston last year and has a personal best time of 2:22:39, set in Dubai last month. Rotich is the reigning NYC Half Marathon champion and finished fourth in Boston last year in a career best 2:24:26.

The Ethiopian women’s squad at Boston will be exceptionally good, led by national record holder Aselefech Mergia, who just won in Dubai in a blistering 2:19:31. Joining her will be the 1-2 finishers from last November’s ING New York City Marathon, Firehiwot Dado (2:23:15 PB) and Buzunesh Deba (2:23:19), and 2011 BMW Frankfurt Marathon champion Mamitu Daska (2:21:59).

Russians Galina Bogomolova (2:20:47 PB) and Alevtina Biktimirova (2:25:12) will also be in the field.

John Hancock Financial is celebrating the 150th anniversary of their company this year, and see the Boston Marathon as a great way to express their corporate pride.

“In celebration of our 150th anniversary as a company, this year’s field is faster and more competitive than ever before,” crowed Rob Friedman, Hancock’s sports marketing chief. “We know these talented runners will provide the millions of fans around the world with another spectacular race, and we are counting down the days to April 16th.”

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