In its 29th year as principal sponsor of the Boston Marathon, John Hancock Financial today announced the elite field for the 118th running of the Boston Marathon on April 21. A complete field list follows.
Reigning champions Lelisa Desisa and Rita Jeptoo will return to defend their titles, but will be challenged by the fastest field ever assembled for the world's most historic marathon.
The international John Hancock Elite Athlete Team includes 46 athletes from 13 countries and includes Olympic medalists, World Marathon Majors champions of Chicago, New York City, Tokyo and Boston, and champions of more than 80 global marathons.
Seven men in the field have run under 2:05:30, including Desisa, who is ranked #1 in the world by Track & Field News for his 2013 wins in Boston and Dubai and his silver medal finish at the 2013 IAAF World Championships Marathon. Dennis Kimetto, who is ranked #2 in the world for his 2013 course record wins in Chicago and Tokyo may be Desisa's strongest challenger. Kimetto holds the world record in the 25K and has a personal best 2:03:45 from his Chicago win.
Joining the duo is Moses Mosop, who ran the second-fastest time ever run over a certified marathon distance with his 2:03:06 second-place finish in Boston in 2011. Mosop then went on to win Chicago the same year.
Ethiopians Gebre Gebremariam and Markos Geneti have also run sub-2:05 and have experience on the course. Gebremariam has finished third at Boston twice and won in New York City in 2010. Geneti won Los Angeles and last year finished sixth in his Boston debut. Last year's runner up and former 10K world-record-holder Micah Kogo returns for redemption after missing the crown by five seconds.
Other strong challengers will be three-time Amsterdam winner and Rotterdam champion Wilson Chebet and young talent Tilahun Regassa, who has also won Rotterdam. They are joined by Frankline Chepkwony, who is past champion in Seoul and Zurich, and Shami Dawud, who holds the course record in Hamburg.
Three-time Olympian Meb Keflezighi, past New York City winner and Olympic silver medalist, and three-time Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein will work together with Jason Hartmann, Brett Gotcher, Nick Arciniaga and Jeffrey Eggleston to bring back a title for the U.S. Keflezighi has finished as high as third in Boston and Hartmann has finished fourth the past two years.
Joining them to round out the deep men's field are April Lusapho, third place finisher in New York City last year, and Adil Anani, who won Beppu and Casablanca. Also in contention are young talents Olympian Jeffrey Hunt, Warsaw winner Vitaliy Shafar, 2:06 marathoner Eric Ndiema, Lisbon champion Paul Lonyangata, and Gongju winner Joel Kimurer.
On the women's side, the historic win will be difficult to secure with nine women owning personal best times under 2:23. Headliners include the top four finishers from last year's race: Rita Jeptoo, Meseret Hailu, Sharon Cherop and Shalane Flanagan.
After winning Boston for the second time, Jeptoo went on to win Chicago in 2:19:57 and was the only woman in the world last year to break 2:20. Hailu returns with valuable experience after beating 2012 Boston champion Cherop by three seconds to secure second place.
Cherop returns for her fourth Boston Marathon with an improved personal best of 2:22:38 earned this past fall with a runner-up finish in Berlin. Three-time Olympian Flanagan was in the hunt until the final stretch and finished only seven seconds outside of a podium spot.
Challenging these women will be 2011 Boston Marathon champion Caroline Kilel and 2011 runner up Desiree Davila Linden. Both women are back in top form with Kilel setting a new 2:22:34 best in Frankfurt and Linden determined to beat her 2:22:38 Boston Marathon American course record.
Ready to mix things up are Mare Dibaba, who has a personal best of 2:19:52 and recently won Xiamen; Jemima Sumgong, who was runner up in Chicago last year and in Boston in 2012; Eunice Kirwa, who has a 2:21:41 best and Seoul champion Flomena Chepchichir.
Two-time New York City runner up Buzunesh Deba is in the field with eight U.S. marathon wins to her name. Joining Deba are Olympic Marathon bronze medalist Tatiana Petrova Arkhipova, who returns after maternity leave, and Aleksandra Duliba, the national marathon record holder from Belarus. Each expects podium finishes in their Boston debuts.
Also joining the field are Yeshi Esayias, who has won or placed runner up in nine marathons; Rotterdam champion Philes Ongori and Belaynesh Oljira, who is making her transition to the roads after winning the bronze medal in the 10,000m at the 2013 IAAF World Championships.
Additional Americans headlining the John Hancock team are Amy Hastings, Serena Burla and Adriana Nelson. Each brings strong credentials to the race as does Canadian national-record-holder Lanni Marchant, former Tokyo champion Noriko Higuchi, Colombian elite Yolanda Caballero, and Adriana Aparecida da Silva from Brazil.
�"The essence of the Boston Marathon has been competition, and the John Hancock Elite Athlete Team brings together a group of competitors who are driven to win," said Tom Grilk, B.A.A. Executive Director. �"In addition to running some of the fastest marathons ever, they represent a group of proven winners who have seized victory across the World Marathon Majors and other leading events, as well as capturing Olympic and World Championship medals. They offer every promise of enriching yet further the competitive lore of Boston."
�"We are proud to present this outstanding group of international athletes who will set the pace for the field of 36,000 runners from around the globe in what will undoubtedly be an inspirational race for runners and fans everywhere," said Rob Friedman, head of Sponsorship and Event Marketing at John Hancock.
The 2014 Boston Marathon marks the 29th year of John Hancock's landmark sponsorship of the race. For additional information about the John Hancock Elite Athlete Team and sponsorship, please visit www.johnhancock.com/bostonmarathon/sportspartnerships.html or follow us @jhboston26 on Twitter.
2014 John Hancock Elite Athlete Team
118th Boston Marathon April 21, 2014
MEN Personal Best Time Country
Moses Mosop 2:03:06 (Boston, 2011) Kenya
Dennis Kimetto 2:03:45 (Chicago 2013) CR Kenya
Lelisa Desisa 2:04:45 (Dubai, 2013) Ethiopia
Gebregziabher Gebremariam 2:04:53 (Boston, 2011) Ethiopia
Markos Geneti 2:04:54 (Dubai, 2012) Ethiopia
Wilson Chebet 2:05:27 (Rotterdam, 2011) Kenya
Tilahun Regassa 2:05:27 (Chicago, 2012) Ethiopia
Shami Dawud 2:05:42 (Dubai, 2012) Ethiopia
Eric Ndiema 2:06:07 (Amsterdam, 2011) Kenya
Frankline Chepkwony 2:06:11 (Eindhoven, 2012) Kenya
Micah Kogo 2:06:56 (Chicago, 2013) Kenya
Adil Annani 2:07:43 (London, 2012) Morocco
Paul Lonyangata 2:07:44 (Xiamen, 2013) Kenya
Dathan Ritzenhein 2:07:47 (Chicago, 2012) USA
Joel Kimurer 2:07:48 (Gongju, 2013) Kenya
Lusapho April 2:08:32 (Hannover, 2013) CR South Africa
Mebrahtom Keflezighi 2:09:08 (Houston, 2012) USA
Brett Gotcher 2:10:36 (Houston, 2010) USA
Jeffrey Hunt 2:11:00 (Beppu, 2010) Australia
Jason Hartmann 2:11:06 (Chicago 2010) USA
Nicholas Arciniaga 2:11:30 (Houston, 2011) USA
Vitaliy Shafar 2:11:52 (Frankfurt, 2013) Ukraine
Jeffrey Eggleston 2:12:03 (Chicago, 2012) USA
WOMEN Personal Best Time Country
Mare Dibaba 2:19:52 (Dubai, 2012) Ethiopia
Rita Jeptoo 2:19:57 (Chicago, 2013) Kenya
Jemima Jelagat Sumgong 2:20:48 (Chicago, 2013) Kenya
Meseret Hailu Debele 2:21:09 (Amsterdam, 2012) CR Ethiopia
Eunice Kirwa 2:21:41 (Amsterdam, 2012) Kenya
Sharon Cherop 2:22:28 (Berlin, 2013) Keya
Caroline Kilel 2:22:34 (Frankfurt, 2013) Kenya
Desiree Davila Linden 2:22:38 (Boston, 2011) USA
Flomena Chepchichir Chumba 2:23:00 (Frankfurt, 2013) Kenya
Buzunesh Deba 2:23:19 (New York, 2011) Ethiopia
Tatiana Petrova Arkhipova 2:23:29 (London, 2012) Russia
Aleksandra Duliba 2:23:44 (Chicago, 2013) NR Belarus
Yeshi Esayias 2:24:06 (Frankfurt, 2013) Ethiopia
Philes Ongori 2:24:20 (Rotterdam, 2011) Kenya
Belaynesh Oljira 2:25:01 (Dubai, 2013) Ethiopia
Shalane Flanagan 2:25:38 (Houston, 2012) USA
Yolanda Caballero 2:26:17 (Boston, 2011) Colombia
Amy Hastings 2:27:03 (Los Angeles, 2011) USA
Lanni Marchant 2:28:00 (Toronto, 2013) Canada
Serena Burla 2:28:01 (Amsterdam, 2013) USA
Noriko Higuchi 2:28:49 (Tokyo, 2011) Japan
Adriana Nelson 2:28:52 (London, 2008) USA
Adriana Aparecida da Silva 2:29:17 (Tokyo, 2012) Brazil