John Hancock Financial announces 2012 Boston Marathon international elite field

BOSTON, MA, February 9, 2012�In its 27th year as principal sponsor of the Boston Marathon, John Hancock Financial today announced the elite field for the 116th running of the Boston Marathon on April 16. A complete field list follows.

Reigning champions Geoffrey Mutai and Caroline Kilel will defend their titles, but will be challenged by the fastest men's and women's fields ever assembled for the Boston Marathon. With 31 contenders setting their personal best time in the past two years, including eight men under 2:07 and ten women under 2:24, the race will prove highly competitive.

Last year, Mutai ran an unmatched 2:03:02 World Best on Boston's certified course, without the aid of pacesetters, and then followed that accomplishment with a course record win in New York City. Mutai is now the fastest marathoner in history, and the only man to ever set course records at Boston and New York in the same year.

Top contenders challenging Mutai include last year's third place finisher and 2010 New York City champion Gebre Gebremariam, 2010 Boston champion Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot, 2011 Amsterdam and Rotterdam winner Wilson Chebet, and 2011 Chicago second and third place finishers Wesley Korir and Bernard Kipyego.

Young talent clipping their heels include 2011 Fukuoka champion Josphat Ndambiri, 2:05 marathoner Levy Matebo, 2011 Amsterdam runner-up Laban Korir, 2012 Xiamen winner Peter Kamais, 2011 Dubai champion David Barmasai, and half marathon specialist Mathew Kisorio.

Americans Antonio Vega and Jason Hartmann, Kenyans Frankline Chepkwony and Dickson Chumba, and Netherlander Michel Butter are also in the elite field.

On the women's side, the historic race in Boston has been decided over the past four years by three seconds or less. Last year Caroline Kilel turned in another close race as she traded the lead with American Desiree Davila several times down the finishing stretch of Boylston Street. Kilel ultimately triumphed by two seconds over Davila for the 2:22:36 win, before collapsing in exhaustion.

Chasing Kilel are Kenyan teammates Sharon Cherop and Caroline Rotich. Cherop and Rotich ran with Kilel through the final miles last year in Boston before finishing third and fourth respectively. They eagerly await the rematch.

A strong Ethiopian contingent will also seek the crown. Last year's New York City winner Firehiwot Dado and runner up Buzunesh Deba team up again and joining the pair is Aselefech Mergia, the Dubai winner and newly crowned 2:19:31 national record holder. Also in the mix will be the talented Mamitu Daska, who won Frankfurt last year, setting a new course record.

The Boston-New York and Kenyan-Ethiopian rivalries should prove exciting, but working to break up the leaders will be a top Russian team: Galina Bogomolova, Alevtina Biktimirova, Nadezdha Leonteva and 2010 Boston runner-up Tatyana Pushkareva will work together to return the coveted title to Russia.

Additional talent includes 2006 Boston Marathon champion Rita Jeptoo, Ashu Kasim, Agnes Kiprop, Georgina Rono, Diana Sigei, and Genet Getaneh.

�"For 27 years, John Hancock, as principal sponsor, has honored its commitment to bring the world's top runners to the historic Boston Marathon to ensure that it remains among the world's most premier sporting events," said Rob Friedman, head of Sponsorship and Event Marketing at John Hancock. �"In celebration of our 150th anniversary as a company, this year's field is faster and more competitive than ever before. 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."

�"One of the cornerstones of any top marathon in the world is the elite field. 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," said Tom Grilk, B.A.A. Executive Director. �"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."

John Hancock Financial is a unit of Manulife Financial Corporation, a leading Canada-based financial services group with principle operations in Asia, Canada and the United States. In 2012, John Hancock celebrates 150 years of serving clients across the United States, while Manulife celebrates its 125th anniversary. Operating as Manulife Financial in Canada and in most of Asia, and primarily as John Hancock in the United States, Manulife Financial Corporation 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 C$500 billion (US$491 billion) as at December 31, 2011. 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 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

For more information about the Boston Marathon: Twitter @jhboston26 Twitter @B_A_A_

John Hancock's 2012 elite Boston Marathon Field

MENCountryPersonal Best Geoffrey Mutai Kenya 2:03:02 (Boston, 2011) CR, WB Gebre Gebremariam Ethiopia 2:04:53 (Boston, 2011) Levy Matebo Kenya 2:05:16 (Frankfurt, 2011) Wilson Chebet Kenya 2:05:27 (Rotterdam, 2011) Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot Kenya 2:05:52 (Boston, 2010) Laban Korir Kenya 2:06:05 (Amsterdam, 2011) Wesley Korir Kenya 2:06:15 (Chicago, 2011) Bernard Kipyego Kenya 2:06:29 (Chicago, 2011) David Barmasai Kenya 2:07:18 (Dubai, 2011) Dickson Chumba Kenya 2:07:23 (Frankfurt, 2011) Josphat Ndambiri Kenya 2:07:36 (Fukuoka, 2011) Peter Kamais Kenya 2:07:37 (Xiamen, 2012) CR Mathew Kisorio Kenya 2:10:58 (New York, 2011) Frankline Chepkwony Kenya 2:10:59 (Nairobi, 2011) Jason Hartmann US 2:11:06 (Chicago, 2010) Michel Butter Netherlands 2:12:59 (Amsterdam, 2011) Antonio Vega US 2:13:47 (Boston, 2010) WOMENCountryPersonal Best Aselefech Mergia Ethiopia 2:19:31 (Dubai, 2012) CR, NR Galina Bogomolova Russia 2:20:47 (Chicago, 2006) Mamitu Daska Ethiopia 2:21:59 (Frankfurt, 2011) CR Caroline Kilel Kenya 2:22:36 (Boston, 2011) Sharon Cherop Kenya 2:22:42 (Boston, 2011) Ashu Kasim Ethiopia 2:23:09 (Xiamen, 2012) Firehiwot Dado Ethiopia 2:23:15 (New York City, 2011) Buzunesh Deba Ethiopia 2:23:19 (New York City, 2011) Rita Jeptoo Kenya 2:23:38 (Boston, 2006) Agnes Kiprop Kenya 2:23:54 (Frankfurt, 2011) Caroline Rotich Kenya 2:24:26 (Boston, 2011) Georgina Rono Kenya 2:24:33 (Eindhoven, 2011) CR Alevtina Biktimirova Russia 2:25:12 (Frankfurt, 2005) Genet Getaneh Ethiopia 2:25:57 (Amsterdam, 2011) Tatyana Pushkareva Russia 2:26:14 (Boston, 2010) Diana Sigei Kenya 2:26:53 (Dubai, 2011) Nadezdha Leonteva Russia 2:31:57 (Moscow, 2011)

CR=Course Record
WB=World Best
NR=National Record