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Boston Marathon 2011 - The Preview
by Sharon Ekstrom
Over time, the Boston Marathon has showcased some of the most exciting marathon talent and the 115th edition of the race will be no different. As top athletes are pushing the envelope: spectators cannot help but get caught up in the excitement - and the massive course record of 2:05:52 set at the prior year's race suggests that the Boston Marathon may be open for super fast times in 2011.
photo credit: Victah Sailer
The 2011 men's race will see the return of the first, second and fourth finishers from 2010 Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot, Tekeste Kebede and Ryan Hall (who were also fifth, fourth and third respectively in 2009). Others will be added to bulk up the field, many capable of a win, especially Geoffrey Mutai, Gebre Gebremariam and Peter Kamais will add extra competition to the mix.
The women's race will see, arguably, the deepest field of women ever to run in the Boston Marathon. In the field will be the top three finishers from 2010: Teyba Erkesso, Tatyana Pushkareva and Salina Kosgei. Also included will be three women who have run 2:22 or faster - legendary Catherine Ndereba chasing a fifth Boston win, as well as two who finished one second apart in an exciting 2010 Toronto Waterfront Marathon: Sharon Cherop and Tirfi Tsegaye - both running well under that race's previous record. Even as we mention those women first, we can't discount Caroline Kilel and Florence Kiplagat who are top competitors; and Kara Goucher whose 2009 third place finish was seen as a disappointment.
The fact that the 2011 Boston Marathon has no clear cut favorites in either the men or women's race makes the thrill of watching and commenting on this competition all the more exciting. And as veteran and debut marathoners alike will give good chase, there can be only one victor. Anything is bound to happen.
The Men's Race
The Boston Marathon has always attracted top athletes to its field, the 2011 edition of the race is no exception. While the London Marathon - always in the same month, but this year on the same weekend as Boston - has seemingly unlimited funds and can attract the biggest and fastest possible fields; the prestige of the Boston Marathon and the work of the elite athlete coordinators bring a quality field. Notably absent are 2009 champion Deriba Merga, 4-time champion Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot and top American Meb Keflezighi. Other Americans who might have placed in the top ten have also opted to run in London where they are given additional funds and can hope for an exceptionally fast time on the pancake-flat course.
Returning for the Men's race will be three top finishers from the 2009 and 2010 editions of the race, Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot, Tekeste Kebede and Ryan Hall. The course record was smashed in 2010 and fell for the first time in five years; as 21 year old Kiprono Cheruiyot (no relation to four-time winner Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot) ran a blazing 2:05:52 - the first sub 2:06 performance ever at Boston. Kiprono Cheruiyot who was only fifth in 2009, had flown under the radar last year, seemingly overshadowed by the likes of defending champion Deriba Merga, Abderrahim Goumri and top Americans Ryan Hall and Meb Keflezighi - but as is often the case with this marathon, anything can happen. But with the 2:05:52, Kiprono Cheruiyot will be on the top of everyone's list for a possible repeat.
Ryan Hall, led the 2009 Boston Marathon at world record pace but faded to 3rd place (2:09:40) in that year. Hall took those lessons to heart and ran more conservatively in 2010, but he did not have the wherewithal to go with the top Africans at the pace that would end sub-2:06. Hall ran his own race - picking off runners and finished 4th in 2:08:41, a time nearly good enough to win the 2009 Boston race but nearly 3 minutes off Cheruiyot's 2010 win and 1:20 off Tekeste Kebede's 2nd place finish.
Kebede - no relation to the London and Chicago Marathon champion Tsegaye Kebede - was runner-up at the 2010 Boston Marathon in a breakthrough 2:07:23. This was unexpected from a runner who struggled to break the 2:10 mark for five years of running the marathon distance. Kebede had first done so at the 2009 Boston Marathon where he finished 4th in a 2:09:49 running with Ryan Hall after the group was broken by 2009 Boston Champion Merga's unrelenting surges at mile 18. While Merga repeated his strategy in 2010 hitting the leaders with hard surges; the quicker race pace was much faster than Merga could maintain and Kebede caught him in the final quarter mile of the race to take the runner-up spot.
Merga was a name to watch in 2009 and 2010; but Merga did not return to the 2011 field; but opted to run the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon instead of Boston (where he was runner-up in 2:09:13). Replacing that top Ethiopian will be one of our clear favorites: the rising star Gebre Gebremariam whose top finishes at recent road races and debut at the 2010 New York City Marathon holds great promise in the marathon distance. Geoffrey Mutai who has the fastest previous two marathon finishes of anyone in the field - his 2:04:55 from the 2010 Rotterdam Marathon and 2:05:10 from the 2010 Berlin Marathon - must also be a favorite and will make the race interesting.
Also expect good performances from two runners who did not have great finishes the last time they ran Boston, and will be returning to seek redemption: Gilbert Yegon, course record holder from the 2010 Amsterdam Marathon (2:06:18), and Evans Cheruiyot, 2008 Chicago Marathon champion (2:06:25). Peter Kamais will be the wild card in the field - with strong Half Marathon credentials, Kamais debuted in the marathon with an uninspiring New York City Marathon finish, admitting that his training was not right - yet - for the marathon.
The men's race remains wide open. The chances of a course record repeat might be possible with perfect weather and whether a runner will take up the role that Merga had assumed and work to push the pace. We can still hope for an American victory at Boston with Ryan Hall, but even speaking of that would jinx it.
The Women's Race
photo credit: Victah Sailer
We often mention that Boston has a strong women's field, but the 2011 Boston Marathon will see an undeniably deep field. Alway of interest, Kara Goucher will also be making her return to marathoning after giving birth in September 2010; while Desiree Davila who continues to improve and ran the fastest marathon by an American woman in 2010 will compete well. The big story, however, may well be found in the Ethiopia versus Kenya showdown - with winners from seven Boston Marathons spanning the past decade returning - 2010 champion Teyba Erkesso, 2009 champion Salina Kosgei, 2008 champion Dire Tune and four-time champion (from 2000, 2001, 2004 and 2005) Catherine Ndereba. Others to watch include 2010 runner up Tatyana Pushkareva, Olympian Werknesh Kidane, Frankfurt Marathon Champion Caroline Kilel, 2:22 marathoners from the 2010 Toronto Waterfront Marathon Sharon Cherop and Tirfi Tsegaye and 2010 World Half Marathon Champion Florence Kiplagat in her debut.
In 2010 with Ndereba sidelined with a piriformis injury, Boston Marathon saw training partners Erkesso and Tune dominating the early part of the race. As Tune dropped from the event near mile 15 due to stomach problems and Kosgei not 100% recovered from a hamstring injury following a fall at the 2009 New York City Marathon, Erkesso ran away alone to take victory in 2:26:11 although she was very nearly caught by a hard-charging Tatyana Pushkareva who finished just three seconds behind.
The Boston women's race often seems to provide drama and while the three second differential at the 2010 race was close, the narrowest margins of victory had been seen in 2009 (1 second - Kosgei beat Tune and Goucher) and 2008 (2 seconds - Tune won in a sprint against Alvetina Biktimirova). In 2009 the women's race was notably slow with the first mile clocking 6:28, with the women running too conservatively - this was Goucher's last Boston experience, and we'll see how she reacts to that.
In the 2011 Boston women's field, Catherine "the Great" Ndereba will be returning for the first time since 2005. Three of Ndereba's four wins in Boston have been faster finishes than the most recent champions Erkesso, Kosgei and Tune. This is not surprising for a woman who still remains the second fastest female marathoner ever and holds three sub 2:20 marathon finishes to her name. Need we say more? Okay, she also has two Olympic silver medals and three World Championship medals (two gold and one silver). Ndereba may be the oldest in the field at 38, but do not underestimate her abilities and the name she has made for herself as one of the fiercest competitors ever.
A wild card in the already deep women's field is Florence Kiplagat, best known as the fastest female Kenyan to run 10000m and the Gold medalist at the 2009 World Cross Country Championships. Kiplagat has recently tested herself on the roads with a gold medal at the 2010 World Half Marathon Championships. At 24, Kiplagat has lots of potential and who knows what she is capable of in Boston.
The stage is set for the 2011 Boston Marathon. Expect top notch competition in the men's and women's races on Monday, April 18, 2011.
Prize Money - Overall
Prize Money - Masters Division
Prize Money - Bonuses
World record bonus of $50,000 for men breaking Haile Gebrselassie's time of 2:03:59 from the 2008 Berlin Marathon and women breaking Paula Radcliffe's time of 2:15:25 from the 2003 London Marathon.
Course record bonus of $25,000 for men breaking Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot's time of 2:05:52 set at the 2010 race and women breaking Margaret Okayo's time of 2:20:43 set at the 2002 race.
There are also Masters world record bonuses of $10,000 for men breaking 2:08:46 set by Andres Espinoza at the 2003 Berlin Marathon and 2:25:43 set by Ludmila Petrova at the 2008 New York City Marathon. Masters course record bonuses of $7,500 for men breaking 2:11:04 set by John Campbell in 1990 and 2:27:58 set by Firaya Sultanova-Zhdanova in 2002.
|Male Elite Athletes|
|Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot (22)||KEN||1||2:05:52, Boston, 2010|| History |
|Geoffrey Mutai (29)||KEN||2||2:04:55, Rotterdam, 2010|| History |
|Ryan Hall (27)||USA||3||2:06:17, London, 2008|| History |
|Gilbert Yegon (22)||KEN||4||2:06:18, Amsterdam, 2009|| History |
|Evans Cheruiyot (28)||KEN||5||2:06:25, Chicago, 2008|| History |
|Tola Tadese (23)||ETH||6||2:06:31, Frankfurt, 2010|| History |
|Bekana Daba (22)||ETH||8||2:07:04, Houston, 2011|| History |
|Philip Kimutai Sanga (27)||KEN||9||2:07:11, Frankfurt, 2010|| History |
|Tekeste Kebede (28)||ETH||DNS||2:07:23, Boston, 2010|| History |
|Abreham Cherkos (21)||ETH||12||2:07:29, Amsterdam, 2010|| History |
|Deressa Chimsa (34)||ETH||14||2:07:54, Dubai, 2009|| History |
|Stephen Kibiwot (31)||KEN||15||2:07:54, Prague, 2009|| History |
|Robert Kipchumba (27)||KEN||16||2:08:07, Xiamen, 2011|| History |
|Gebregziabher Gebremariam (26)||ETH||17||2:08:14, New York City, 2010|| History |
|Moses Kigen Kipkosgei (28)||KEN||18||2:10:12, Nairobi, 2009|| History |
|Peter Kamais (34)||KEN||20||2:14:58, New York City, 2010|| History |
|Alistair Cragg (30)||IRA||21||Debut|| History |
|Moses Mosop (25)||KEN||22||Debut|| History |
|Sylvester Teimet||KEN||DNS||2:06:49, Seoul, 2010|| History |
|Shadrack Kiplagat (33)||KEN||DNS||2:07:53, Amsterdam, 2007|| History |
|Brett Gotcher (26)||USA||DNS||2:10:36, Houston, 2010|| History |
|Antonio Vega (27)||USA||DNS||2:13:47, Boston, 2010|| History |
|Female Elite Athletes|
|Teyba Erkesso (28)||ETH||1||2:23:53, Houston, 2010|| History |
|Catherine Ndereba (38)||KEN||2||2:18:47, Chicago, 2001|| History |
|Sharon Cherop (27)||KEN||4||2:22:43, Toronto Waterfront Marathon, 2010|| History |
|Tirfi Tsegaye (26)||ETH||5||2:22:42, Toronto Waterfront Marathon, 2010|| History |
|Merima Mohammed (18)||ETH||6||2:23:05, Toronto Waterfront Marathon, 2010|| History |
|Elfenesh Alemu||ETH||DNS||2:24:29, London, 2001|| History |
|Caroline Kilel (30)||KEN||8||2:23:25, Frankfurt, 2010|| History |
|Dire Tune (25)||ETH||9||2:23:44, Frankfurt, 2010|| History |
|Alice Timbilili (28)||KEN||10||2:36:25, Boston, 2009|| History |
|Kim Smith (29)||NZ||11||2:25:21, London, 2010|| History |
|Kara Goucher (32)||USA||12||2:25:53, New York City, 2008|| History |
|Tatyana Pushkareva (25)||RUS||14||2:26:14, Boston, 2010|| History |
|Desiree Davila (27)||USA||15||2:26:20, Chicago, 2010|| History |
|Misiker Mekonin Demissie (24)||ETH||16||2:37:39, New York City, 2010|| History |
|Silvia Skvortsova (36)||RUS||17||2:26:24, Berlin, 2009|| History |
|Werknesh Kidane (29)||USA||18||2:27:15, Dubai, 2011|| History |
|Hellen Mugo (25)||KEN||19||2:27:16, Carpi, 2010|| History |
|Yuliya Ruban (27)||UKR||20||2:27:44, Frankfurt, 2010|| History |
|Woynishet Girma (25)||ETH||21||2:27:51, Amsterdam, 2010|| History |
|Blake Russell (22)||USA||22||2:29:10, Chicago, 2005|| History |
|Florence Kiplagat (24)||KEN||23||Debut|| History |
|Caroline Rotich (26)||KEN||24||2:29:46, New York City, 2010|| History |
|Galina Bogomolova (33)||RUS||DNS||2:20:47, Chicago, 2006|| History |
|Salina Kosgei (34)||KEN||DNS||2:23:22, Berlin, 2006|| History |
|Teyba Naser (24)||ETH||DNS||2:26:20, Los Angeles, 2010|| History |