The chase for the World Marathon Majors prize purse resumes in 2014 with the Tokyo Marathon on February 23, the Virgin Money London Marathon on April 13, and the B.A.A. Boston Marathon the on April 21. The top-ranked athletes in the 2013-2014 WMM series will all be in action this spring.
Men's leader Dennis Kimetto of Kenya (50 points) will be on the start line in Boston, where he'll face defending champion Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia, who is currently ranked third with 40 points. Second-ranked Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia (45 points) will defend his title in London against a stacked field.
On the women's side, Kenyans Priscah Jeptoo and Rita Jeptoo (no relation) are tied atop the leader board with 50 points apiece. However, they'll be an ocean apart as they defend their respective titles this spring in London (Priscah) and Boston (Rita). Third-ranked Edna Kiplagat (40 points) will be on the London start line.
Tokyo Marathon: Sunday February 23, 2014
2014 marks Tokyo's second year as a World Marathon Major. Last year, Dennis Kimetto of Kenya and Atsede Habtamu of Ethiopia set new course records with their time of 2:06:50 and 2:25:28, respectively. Those course marks could be in jeopardy once again as six men arrive with personal bests under 2:06 and eight women with personal bests under 2:24. Furthermore, the Japanese all-comers records of 2:05:18 (Tsegaye Kebede) and 2:21:18 (Mizuki Noguchi) could also be improved.
The favorites in the men's field are two-time world champion (2009 and 2011) and Olympic silver medalist (2012) Abel Kirui of Kenya, 2013 world championship bronze medalist Tadese Tola of Ethiopia, and 2012 Tokyo winner Michael Kipyego of Kenya. On the women's side, sub 2:20 performer Lucy Kabuu of Kenya headlines a field that includes 2012 BMW Berlin Marathon runner-up Tirfi Tsegaye of Ethiopia, and fellow Ethiopian Atsede Baysa, the 2012 Chicago champion. In the men's race, a victory by Kipyego could make him the first two-time champion in Tokyo Marathon history.
When seeing ahead to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, the most promising Japanese young athlete in the field might be Chihiro Miyawaki, sub-28 mins runner in 10,000 meters. This race will be his marathon debut. Can he make successful transition from the track to the marathon?
Virgin Money London Marathon: Sunday April 13, 2014
The 2014 London Marathon may prove to be the greatest marathon race ever with four of the biggest names in distance running going for victory, including Olympic and World champion Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda, world record holder Wilson Kipsang of Kenya, and two debutants in Mo Farah of Great Britain and Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia.
Both 2013 champions, Tsegaye Kebede and Priscah Jeptoo, return to defend their titles. Kebede will have a tough task as he also faces the London course record (2:04:40) holder Emmanuel Mutai and the Boston and New York Marathon record holder Geoffrey Mutai, while Jeptoo's opponents include the world champion, Edna Kiplgat, and her fellow Kenyan, Florence Kiplagat, who broke the world half marathon record last weekend.
Farah is the reigning Olympic and World champion at 5000m and 10,000m, while Dibaba was the double Olympic champion at the same distances at Beijing 2008. The fastest men's debut time (on a record-compliant course) is 2:04:16 by Dennis Kimetto in the 2012 Berlin Marathon, while the fastest by a woman is 2:18:56 by Paula Radcliffe in London in 2002. Can Farah or Dibaba break these debut records?
Boston Marathon: Monday April 21, 2014
The 2013 Boston Marathon champions, Lelisa Desisa and Rita Jeptoo, have a chance to defend their titles on Patriots' Day. Desisa's task is daunting since his competition this year includes Dennis Kimetto, course record holder for the Tokyo and Chicago Marathons (2:03:45), and Moses Mosop, who ran his debut in 2:03:06 to finish second in Boston in 2011 and followed with a Chicago Marathon win in 2:05:37.
The trio is joined by another five men who have broken 2:06, including last year's runner-up and former 10K world-record-holder Micah Kogo. All will challenge for the coveted laurel wreath awarded to the winner of the world's oldest annually held marathon.
Jeptoo also faces many challengers as she bids for a third Boston women's title. Nine women in the field have run 2:23:00 or better, including former champions Sharon Cherop and Caroline Kilel. Close on their heels will be the runner-ups from 2011, 2012 and 2013 Desiree Linden, Jemima Sumgong and Meseret Hailu.
The top American finishers from last year, Jason Hartmann and Shalane Flanagan, will aim to improve on their fourth place finishes in 2013.
2013-2014 WMM Series Current Leaderboards
Dennis Kimetto (KEN) 50
Tsegaye Kebede (ETH) 45
Lelisa Desisa (ETH) 40
Emmanuel Mutai (KEN) 30
Wilson Kipsang (KEN) 26
Geoffrey Mutai (KEN) 25
Stephen Kiprotich (UGA) 25
Priscah Jeptoo (KEN) 50
Rita Jeptoo (KEN) 50
Edna Kiplagat (KEN) 40
Sharon Cherop (KEN) 25
Aberu Kebede (ETH) 25
Florence Kiplagat (KEN) 25
Irina Mikitenko (GER) 20
Top Elite Fields (sub-2:06, sub-2:24 plus other notable runners)
Lucy Wangui Kabuu
Merima Mohamed Hasen
Jemima Jelagat Sumgong
Meseret Hailu Debele
Desiree Davila Linden
Tatiana Petrova Arkhipova