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2010 Boston Marathon - The Men
Meb Keflezighi |
Ryan Hall |
Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot |
Deriba Merga |
Meb Keflezighi (USA)
Meb Keflezighi needs no introduction, but we'll write one anyway. This top American runner, with a career highlighted by high school/NCAA accolades, cross-country championship wins and the American Record at the 10000m (27:13.98), "became a marathoner" when he won the silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics. A string of successful performances were to follow at the 2004 New York City Marathon (2:09:53, 2nd place), the 2005 New York City Marathon (2:09:56, 3rd place) and 2006 Boston Marathon (same as New York!: 2:09:56, 3rd place). Beginning in late 2006, Keflezighi struggled through setbacks from injury and although expected to be a shoo-in to make the 2008 Olympic team, Keflezighi's injuries caused the defending silver medalist to fail to make that team.
With two non-descript injury-plagued years, many thought Keflezighi was done... But what made Keflezighi successful in his running - one of the strongest spirits and greatest toughness in the sport - let Keflezighi continue to rebuild, culminating in a 2009 that was filled with personal bests, national championship titles and major event victories. 2009 achievements started with a strong win at the Rock 'n' Roll San Jose Half-Marathon (61:00), a personal best at the 2009 London Marathon (2:09:21), national cross-country and half marathon titles and an incredible victory and personal best (2:09:15) at the 2009 New York City Marathon against a tough and deep field on a tough course.
Fresh off the New York City Marathon win, Boston has been Keflezighi's sole focus. While not the fastest man in the field, Keflezighi's toughness has earned him olympic medals and world marathon majors and national titles. Keflezighi can and will compete at a top level and - if the fates wish it - may be the first American champion at Boston in nearly thirty years.
Ryan Hall (USA)
Ryan Hall is one of the best American marathoners today and the fastest currently-competing American marathoner. Always a strong track performer, Hall launched to prominence following his half-marathon debut of 59:43 at the 2007 Houston Half Marathon - the first American to ever run sub 60 minutes at that distance and the fastest Half Marathon ever by a non-African born runner. Hall continued to turn heads with his debut marathon, running 2:08:24 at the 2007 Flora London Marathon in 2:08:24 - starting in the second pack and then running up to the join the leaders and looking comfortable mixing it up in the front of the toughest marathon in the world and ultimately setting the fastest debut ever by an American-born runner. Later that year, Hall easily won the US Olympic Team Trials Marathon with a time of 2:09:02 - the fastest time run in North America that year. Hall's next foray into the marathon was the 2008 London Marathon where he finished 5th in 2:06:17, becoming the second-fastest American marathoner behind only Khalid Khannouchi whose 2:05:38 at the 2002 London Marathon remains the American record.
With that success and promise, Hall's tenth place finish at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in 2:12:33 was seen as a disappointment. With that behind him, Hall was setup to forgo another trip to London and instead run the 2009 Boston Marathon in an attempt to become the first American to win that race since 1972. Hall pushed a breakneck world record pace in the opening miles of the event running sub 4:45 miles, but faded badly as the field reached the Newton Hills and surged. Apparently out of that race, Hall did show spirit and made a remarkable recovery to finish in third in 2:09:40 - with the lessons from that day, Hall's 2010 Boston Marathon could be a success.
For 2010 Hall is back. While a 2nd place 1:04:08 from the Rock 'n'Roll Arizona Half-Marathon does little to indicate how he will perform in April, Hall has studied the Boston course several times this winter and over three weeks leading up to the event. Hall is prepared to take on the field in attempts at the first American win in 37 years. He will be looking to set a new American Record at the 2010 Chicago Marathon. (The current American Record is held by Khalid Khannouchi whose 2:05:38 at the 2002 London Marathon was a then world record.)
Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot (Kenya) - WITHDRAWN
Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot, four-time winner of the Boston Marathon (2003, 2006, 2007, 2008), winner of the Chicago Marathon (2006) and the first recipient of the 2006/2007 World Marathon Majors prize purse returns to Boston looking to take back his crown. This Boston Marathon veteran ran a course record and personal best of 2:07:14 at the 2006 race and came close to bettering his performance in 2008 with a 2:07:46 finish. Although he was selected for the 2008 Kenyan Olympic Team, injuries during training sidelined him from his first championship event and hampered training leading up to 2009 Boston Marathon. Kipkoech Cheruiyot had more setbacks in Boston when the blistering sub 4:45 pace of the lead pack in the opening miles of the race exacerbated old injuries and forced him to drop from the race after the halfway mark.
Yet, Kipkoech Cheruiyot quickly returned to racing at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin going head-to-head against some of the toughest young 2:05 marathoner stars. Disappointed with his 5th place finish, the Kenyan wasn't going to let 2009 get the best of him. When compatriot Martin Lel withdrew from the 2009 New York City Marathon field due to injury, Kipkoech Cheruiyot was added as a late entry to the elite roster. While far from a favorite in the field, his talents emerged as he and Olympic silver medalist Meb Keflezighi battled it out to the finish. Kipkoech Cheruiyot was runner-up in 2:09:56.
Fresh of a win from the Granollers Half-Marathon in Barcelona 62:02, this long time favorite and a veteran of Boston has made the hilly course look effortless in the past; but he will have an especially deep field to contend with for 2010. Top athletes like 2009 defending champion Deribe Merga, Ryan Hall, Meb Keflezighi, Evans Cheruiyot and others in field will not make a victory easy for anyone.
Deriba Merga (Ethiopia)
Getty Images Sport / Jim Rogash
Many may not remember that 2009 Boston Marathon defending champion, Deriba Merga, had a DNF in his marathon debut at the 2006 Boston race; since his talents in distance running emerged in 2007, when he ran a number of sub-60 minute half marathons finishing in the top 5 at races like the Ras al Khaimah, Rotterdam and World Road Racing Championships followed by a 2nd place finish at the 2007 Fukuoka Marathon (2:06:50). While Ethiopia had been famous for its distance runners (most notably marathon world record holder, countryman legendary Haile Gebrselassie), there seemed a lack of sub-2:07 runners in early 2000. And with the 2008 Beijing Games looming, Merga was an obvious selection for one of the three spots on the team with a 2:06:38 at the 2008 London Marathon despite the 6th place finish.
Merga easily took on the best marathoners in the world in the humidity of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Marathon as a strong frontrunner for most of the race; but met with disappointment succumbing to heat and fatigue. He lost out on a bronze medal as fellow Ethiopian, Tsegaye Kebede, passed him on the track when he faded in the final hundred meters of the event. Merga remained unfazed and returned to marathoning in January 2009 winning the Houston Marathon in a course record of 2:07:52. Confident of his fitness, he took on the highly competitive field at the 2009 Boston Marathon four months later and won the esteemed event long dominated by Kenyan victories. Merga won in 2:08:42. He had made a name for himself in a very short period of time.
For 2010, Merga is returning to Boston with fresh legs, having not raced since his win of the New-Delhi Half Marathon in 59:54 last November. We still have much to see from Merga, but to win Boston for a second time won't be easy with the depth of field.
Abderrahim Goumri (Morocco)
Abderrahim Goumri remains a favorite and is clearly be one of the top marathoners in the 2010 Boston Marathon field. This Moroccan is an inveterate challenger who has taken on highly competitive fields without hesitation. He went head-to-head against Martin Lel within the last mile of both the 2007 London Marathon and the 2007 New York City Marathon, but was outkicked each time - losing by three seconds in London with a 2:07:44 debut finish and twelve seconds in New York with a 2:09:16. At the 2008 London Marathon, Lel and Goumri were at it again, along with Sammy Wanjiru in the mix. Lel and Wanjiru outsprinted the Moroccan in the last 500 meters, yet all three smashed the London course record set by former Moroccan national, Khalid Khannouchi, in 2002. At the 2008 New York City Marathon, he was once again runner-up, this time to Marilson dos Santos (MEX) and at the 2009 Chicago Marathon runner-up to Sammy Wanjiru (KEN) with a 2:06:04.
In a change of venue, for the first time in three years Goumri has opted to run his spring marathon in Boston rather than the flat, fast roads of London. Although this will be his first time taking on the Newton hills, Goumri has proven talent on challenging courses like the New York City Marathon and is most notably the fastest in the field – the 13th fastest marathoner of all time with a personal best of 2.05:30 from the 2008 London Marathon.