The chase for the million dollar World Marathon Majors prize is back with a bang next week when many of the leading contenders for the 2011/12 series race for points in the BAA Boston and Virgin London Marathon.
With six races gone, the 2011/12 World Marathon Majors series resumes in Boston next Monday, 16 April, where Geoffrey Mutai hopes to extend his lead at the top of the men's leaderboard with a repeat of his phenomenal victory from 12 months' ago.
Mutai smashed the Boston course record last April when he crossed the line in 2 hours 3 minutes 2 seconds, the fastest time ever for the marathon distance. In November he added another victory in New York City to lead the men's standings on 50 points with six races to go.
Another victory for Mutai would extend his 10-point lead over the 2010/11 champion Emmanuel Mutai who defends his London Marathon title just six days later.
Mutai E (no relation) picked up 25 points when he broke the London course record last year as Kenyans filled all three podium places in the British capital at the start of a superb marathon year for the east African nation. He added another 15 points finishing second in New York to win last year's WMM prize and begins the 2012 season sharing second place with Moses Mosop, winner of the Bank of America Chicago Marathon last fall.
Those two have a five-point advantage over Patrick Makau, the Berlin champion and world record holder who could also take the lead in the men's standings if he wins in London. Makau was third last April after recovering from a fall at half way, and went on to claim the Berlin title in a brilliant world record time of 2:03:38.
World champion Abel Kirui is also racing in London where he will be looking to add to his tally of 25 points. He lies fifth thanks to his runaway victory at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu.
Of the five men on 15 points, Kenyans Martin Lel and Vincent Kipruto race in London, while Ethiopia's Gebre Gebremariam and Kenya's Wesley Korir will be among Mutai's challengers in Boston.
The position is even tighter at the top of the women's standings where reigning champion Liliya Shobukhova holds a slender five-point lead over Mary Keitany and Edna Kiplagat. While the Russian is saving herself for the Olympic Games, the two Kenyans are among a highly talented London line-up and either one could snatch the lead.
Keitany is looking to defend her London title after she picked up 25 points with a superb victory there last year. She added 10 more when she was third in New York while Kiplagat also amassed 35 points in 2011 thanks to a commanding win in the World Championships after coming third in London.
In Boston, Kenya's Caroline Kilel will defend her title against New York champion Firehiwot Dado of Ethiopia with both currently on 25 points, 15 off the lead. A win for either would put them on top of the leaderboard.
Also on 25 is Florence Kiplagat who defeated Germany's former WMM champion Irina Mikitenko and world record holder Paula Radcliffe to win the BMW BERLIN MARATHON last September. Kiplagat will be looking to add to her points total in London.
Sharon Cherop currently lies seventh with 20 points. The Kenyan, who was third in Boston last year and at the Daegu World Championships, gets her 2012 campaign underway in Boston.
Of the five women on 15 points, four compete next week. Ethiopia's Buzunesh Deba runs in Boston, while her compatriot Ejegayehu Dibaba, Kenya's world silver medalist Priscah Jeptoo, and Mikitenko are in the London field.
Following the BAA Boston Marathon on Monday 16 April and the Virgin London Marathon on Sunday 22 April, the series will continue with the Olympic Games marathons in London on 5 August (women) and 12 August (men), followed by the BMW BERLIN MARATHON on 30 September, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on 7 October and the ING New York City Marathon on 4 November.
The top five men and women at the London, Boston, Berlin, Chicago and New York marathons, plus those at the IAAF World Championships and Olympic marathons earn points in each two-year World Marathon Majors series. The men's and women's WMM champions each win US$500,000. The points available from each race are:
1st- 25, 2nd- 15, 3rd - 10, 4th - 5, 5th- 1.
2011/12 WMM Leaderboards
1 Geoffrey Mutai KEN 50 pts running in Boston 2 Emmanuel Mutai KEN 40 pts London 2 Moses Mosop KEN 40 pts 4 Patrick Makau KEN 35 pts London 5 Abel Kirui KEN 25 pts London 6 Stephen Kwelio Chemlany KEN 15 pts 6 Gebre Gremariam ETH 15 pts, Boston 6 Vincent Kipruto KEN 15 pts London 6 Wesley Korir KEN 15 pts Boston 6 Martin Lel KEN 15 pts London
1 Liliya Shobukhova RUS 40 pts 2 Mary Keitany KEN 35 pts London 2 Edna Kiplagat KEN 35 pts London 4 Firehiwot Dado ETH 25 pts Boston 4 Caroline Kilel KEN 25 pts Boston 4 Florence Kiplagat KEN 25 pts London 7 Sharon Cherop KEN 20 pts Boston 8 Desiree Davila USA 15 pts 8 Bezunesh Deba ETH 15 pts Boston 8 Ejegayehu Dibaba ETH 15 pts Boston 8 Priscah Jeptoo KEN 15 pts London 8 Irina Mikitenko GER 15 pts London
Boston: Marc Davies+1 617.778.1633
London: Nicola Okey +44 207.902.0182
Berlin: Thomas Steffens +49 171.933.4836
Chicago: Jeremy Borling +1 312.992. 6614
New York: Richard Finn +1 212.423.2229
For further information on the World Marathon Majors, please visit the website www.worldmarathonmajors.com