Photos by George Ross
Boston, USA – Reigning champions Geoffrey Mutai and Caroline Kilel will defend their titles at this year’s Boston Marathon, but will be challenged by the fastest men’s and women’s fields ever assembled for this IAAF Gold Label Road Race.
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 set for 16 April, will prove highly competitive.
Last year, Mutai ran an unmatched 2:03:02 on Boston’s certified course, without the aid of pacesetters, and then followed that accomplishment with a course record win in New York City. Although the course is considered aided for World record recognition, Mutai is nonetheless 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.
Organisers for the IAAF
2012 Elite Boston Marathon Field:
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, USA, 2:11:06 (Chicago, 2010)
Michel Butter, Netherlands, 2:12:59 (Amsterdam, 2011)
Antonio Vega, USA, 2:13:47 (Boston, 2010)
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