CHICAGO - (April 8, 2010) - The Boston Marathon and Virgin London Marathon will both celebrate event milestones in April as the World Marathon Majors Series resumes with star studded line-ups of the best marathon runners in the world competing on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean as they chase the $1 million series jackpot.
With most of the top WMM Series points leaders in action led by reigning champions Irina Mikitenko of Germany and Samuel Wanjiru of
Kenya, both who are in London, the race to be crowned 2009-10 WMM Series champion is sure to heat up this month.
The Boston Marathon will commemorate the 25th anniversary of its principal sponsor John Hancock Financial at the 114th running of the venerable race that begins in rural Hopkinton and ends in the historic heart of the city on Monday, April 19.
Six days later on Sunday, April 25, the action jumps over the Atlantic to the British capital where Virgin will mark its first year as title sponsor of the Virgin London Marathon.
U.S. stars are expected to shine in Boston led by reigning ING New York City Marathon champion Meb Keflezighi and Ryan Hall as they look to break an American men's winless drought going back to 1983 and Greg Meyer. Both have had recent success in Boston; Keflezighi finished third in 2006 and Hall was third last year. A win by Keflezighi and the 25 WMM Series points would vault him to the top of the Series leaderboard in a tie with Wanjiru as the men head into the London race.
The Boston competition, however, will be stiff as defending champion Deriba Merga of Ethiopia returns. Other top contenders should come from a group of sub-2:07 runners including Abderrahim Goumri of Morocco and Gilbert Yegon, Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot and Evans Cheruiyot of Kenya.
The Boston women's field features three returning champions led by 2009 winner Salina Kosgei of Kenya along with her compatriot, Lidiya Grigoryeva of Russia ('07) and Dire Tune of Ethiopia ('08).
There will be the glitter of gold when the action moves to London as both 2008 Olympic gold medalists, Wanjiru and Constantina Dita of Romania, will be part of two deep and fast fields.
Wanjiru is London's defending men's champion and one of six men in the field who have clocked sub-2:06 times including three-time winner Martin Lel (2005, 07, 08), Duncan Kibet and world champion Abel Kirui all of Kenya. Also in the field are two-time ING New York City Marathon champion Marilson Gomes dos Santos of Brazil, 2008 Boston Marathon runner-up Abderrahim Bouramdane of Morocco and for the Briton side Dan Robinson and Andrew Lemoncello.
Mikitenko is the women's pre-race favorite and could have a date with the record book as she aims to join her fellow German Katrin Dorre as the only woman to win three consecutive London crowns. She will, however, face stiff opposition from an intriguing field that includes 2008 Olympic champion Dita, 2005 Chicago and 2006 London winner Deena Kastor of the United States, 2009 Bank of America Chicago Marathon winner Liliya Shobukhova of Russia and 2009 real- Berlin Marathon title holder Atsede Habtamu of Ethiopia. But sure to be the focus of the home country's attention will be Mara Yamauchi who finished second last year and is coming off a strong winning performance last month at the NYC Half-Marathon.
The World Marathon Majors series continues this year with the real- Berlin Marathon on Sunday, September 26, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Sunday, October 10 and concludes at the ING New York City Marathon on Sunday, November 7.
For more on the WMM including current 2009-10 standings, go to www.worldmarathonmajors.com. (Men's standings | Women's standings)