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2009 Boston Marathon - Defending Champions
Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot
With a resume highlighted with victories, Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot cannot be confused with the other two runners bearing the same last name in the 2009 Boston Marathon men's roster - Evans Kiprop Cheruiyot and Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot. Four-time winner of the Boston Marathon, winner of the Chicago Marathon and the first recipient of the 2006/2007 World Marathon Majors prize purse, Kipkoech Cheruiyot was in peak form at the start of 2008, despite the violence following the presidential elections in Kenya which forced runners to change their training regimens.
In the spring of 2008, the Kenyan Federation had not selected their Olympic Marathon team from the wide berth of distance running stars for the August Games. Elites were scrambling to prove themselves on speedy race courses all over the world. Boston course record holder, Kipkoech Cheruiyot, was on target to break his standing record of 2:07:14 from 2006; but he slowed in the final miles to a 2:07:46 victory. The Boston champion was selected for the Kenyan Olympic Marathon team; but overtraining and injuries led to his withdrawal and was followed by a seven-month road to recovery.
Kipkoech Cheruiyot, has been quoted as saying that he will attempt to break the world marathon record at the World Championships in Berlin in August - demonstrating his confidence and strength. He approaches the 2009 Boston Marathon having come off a third place 60:05 finish at the Lisbon Half against a strong field including Martin Lel, Jaouad Gharib, Emmanuel Mutai and Samuel Wanjiru who are all running the 2009 London Marathon.
Kipkoech Cheruiyot has long been a favorite and a veteran of Boston, but he will not be uncontested at the start. Perhaps speedsters such as Deribe Merga, Daniel Rono and Evans Cheruiyot who have all run faster marathon times from 2008 will test this defending champion and push him to a new course record.
In an event where most women tend to have over a decade of solid professional running, Dire Tune at twenty-three has a resume that already includes wins of the 2007 and 2008 Houston Marathon, a third place finish at the 2009 World's Finest 10K (31:55) and a win of the 2009 RAK Half Marathon in personal best of 67:18.
As a MarathonGuide.com dark horse pick for the 2008 Boston race, she was the youngest champion ever of the Boston Marathon winning by two seconds, the closest margin of victory in the women's race. But Tune's victory was not evident from the start. As the veterans pushed the pace, the newcomer held back watching her competition fall off the pack. At mile 19 Tune ran stride for stride with sole challenger Alevtina Biktimirova. Gaining advantage when Biktimirova nearly took a wrong turn in the last two miles of the race, she edged out the Russian for the win.
Tune had been in prime shape for the Olympics, but she failed to perform well at the Beijing Games. For this 2009 race, with notable Boston veterans such as Jelena Prokopcuka, Catherine Ndereba and Rita Jeptoo missing from the women's field, Tune faces a smaller elite field with no obvious standouts. She will have to prove that her win was not "beginner's luck".