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Boston Marathon 2013 - The Preview
by John Elliott
The Boston Marathon is the oldest continually run marathon in the world and remains the only open marathon where the majority of runners must qualify for a spot in the race. The combination of history - and 117 years is a long history - and the difficulty of earning a spot at the starting line are enough to bring the race to the top of the list and give cause for notice.
2012 Winner Wesley Korir Returns
photo credit: Victah Sailer
Since 1986, John Hancock has acted as sponsor of the elite field and prize money at the Boston Marathon - and this support (including $806,000 of prize money and untold appearance fees for 2013 alone) combined with the history of the race ensure that the elite field is one of the greatest in the world and ensure the race is newsworthy. Over time, the fields have included many of the best in the world: world champions, Olympic champions, and always a crew of hopefuly American professionals - hoping to break the streak and become the first American in 20 years to wear the champion's laurel wreath.
For 2013, John Hancock recruited ALL six American marathoners who had represented the USA at the 2012 Olympics - some announced to run the 2013 Boston Marathon even before the Olympics had taken place. That was to be part of the story - how all of America's best would fare against the world - but injuries caused four of the six to withdraw from the field, leaving Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher as the Americans to watch.
The weather has often played a role at Boston, from the historic 1976 "run for the hoses" to the 2007 Nor'Easter that threatened to cancel the race, to the hot/hot/hot 2012 race... The weather has also been beneficial as played out in 2011 when a strong tailwind on the point-to-point course propelled the field to world's best finishing times - ensuring the Boston Marathon on the top of the all-time lists for the forseeable future. But as the 2013 marathon approaches, race officials and those covering the marathon know weather should not be a factor - the day of the 117th Boston Marathon will just be a good racing day.
The Men's Race
The Boston Marathon men's field is always strong and the 2013 field is no exception. Despite late withdrawals of the three American Olympians and the 2011 runner-up and fastest man in the field, the starter list still features nine men who have run faster than 2:07 and three past champions: Wesley Korir (2012) and Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot (2010) of Kenya and Deriba Merga (2009) of Ethiopia.
The 2013 race will once again add to the debate of whether Ethiopia or Kenya can produce the strongest runners. On paper, the Ethiopian contingent has the monopoly of best prior marathons with three men who had all bested 2:05. Lelisa Desisa Benti had run 2:04:45 at the Dubai Marathon in January, Gebre Gebremariam had run 2:04:53 for third place at the wind-aided 2011 Boston Marathon and Markos Geneti had run 2:04:54 at the 2012 Dubai Marathon. On a flat course, in good conditions, many feel that these Ethiopians have the advantage - but Boston does not always play by the rules.
Kenyans have won the Boston Marathon over the prior three years and not a single Ethiopian was seen in the top ten at the 2012 Boston Marathon (a hot year in which some runners also opted out of Boston en route to gaining an Olympics berth); and the Kenyans came prepared. Three Kenyans were enter the race with personal bests of better than 2:06: Levy Matebo had run 2:05:16 at the 2011 Frankfurt Marathon, Dickson Chumba's set a course record at the 2012 Eindhoven Marathon 2:05:46, and Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot set a previous course record at Boston in 2010 o 2:05:52. Any of these men could be strong contenders. Also in the field is notable marathon debutante Micah Kogo who was a past 10K world record holder and won the bronze medal at the 10,000m at the 2008 Olympics.
Most consider these to be the men to watch - with the addition of the two past champions, Korir and Merga. With perfect weather expected, none can say who of the group will be victorious, but it is certain that there will be a competitive race and it is nearly certain that the winner will be either Kenyan or Ethiopian.
The Women's Race
As was the case with the men's field, the Ethiopians in the women's elite field are entering with the best previous best finishes. Three Ethiopians in the field have run sub-2:22. Meret Hailu Debele set the course record at the 2012 Amsterdam Marathon in 2:21:09; Tirfi Tsegaye Beyene ran sub 2:22 twice in 2012, first with a 2:21:40 win at the 2012 Paris Marathon and then a 2:21:19 runner-up finish at the 2012 Berlin Marathon - given that consistency in the prior year she is one to watch. And Mamitu Deska with her 2:21:59 win at the 2011 Frankfurt Marathon rounds out the ranks of the top Ethiopians in the field. Alemitu Abera, with her 2:23:14 win at the 2012 Houston Marathon can also be counted on to be near the lead.
The Kenyan contingent at Boston will also be strong contenders. Rita Jeptoo, the 2006 Boston Marathon champion was out of running for a number of years and ran a poor 2012 Boston Marathon in the heat, but reemerged at the 2012 Chicago Marathon to take the runner-up spot in 2:22:04. Sharon Cherop, won the 2012 Boston Marathon in a heat-affected 2:31:50, but her 2:22:39 finish at the 2012 Dubai Marathon or 2:23:57 win at the 2012 Turin Marathon are more representative of her fitness. These Kenyans will hope to hold off the Ethiopian contingent.
The Boston Marathon had done a good job of recruiting the best Americans - including the full 2012 USA Olympic Marathon team to run the 2013 Boston Marathon. Desiree Davila, the 2011 Boston Marathon runner-up will not start due to injuries, but Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher will be America's hope to regain the Boston title which has not been won by an American since 1985. Both of these two women - training partners - could become champion in the right sort of a race. For Goucher, this will be her third attempt at Boston: in 2009, she was hyped and hoped and expected to be the champion, but the race came down to the final stretch and she emerged in third place. To quote Goucher on her chances for 2013: "In 2009, I thought I could win and expected to win. This year I do think I can win, but I know it's a longshot...I'm not stupid..."
Prize Money - Overall
Prize Money - Masters Division
Prize Money - Bonuses
World best bonus of $50,000 for men breaking Geoffrey Mutai's time of 2:03:02 from the 2011 Boston 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 Geoffrey Mutai's time of 2:03:02 set at the 2011 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|
|Wesley Korir (31)||KEN||1||2:06:13, Chicago, 2012|| History |
|Lelisa Desisa Benti (23)||ETH||2||2:04:45, Dubai, 2013|| History |
|Gebre Gebremariam (29)||ETH||3||2:04:53, Boston, 2011|| History |
|Markos Geneti (29)||ETH||4||2:04:54, Dubai, 2012|| History |
|Deriba Merga (33)||ETH||5||2:06:38, London, 2008|| History |
|Levy Matebo (24)||KEN||6||2:05:16, Frankfurt, 2011|| History |
|Dickson Chumba (27)||KEN||8||2:05:46, Eindhoven, 2012|| History |
|Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot (25)||KEN||9||2:05:52, Boston, 2010|| History |
|Raji Assefa (27)||ETH||10||2:06:24, Paris, 2012|| History |
|Jeffrey Hunt (31)||AUS||14||2:11:00, Beppu, 2010|| History |
|Jason Hartmann (32)||USA||15||2:11:06, Chicago, 2010|| History |
|Fernando Cabada (31)||USA||16||2:11:53, 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Men's Marathon, 2012|| History |
|Robin Watson (30)||CAN||18||2:13:37, Rotterdam, 2012|| History |
|Micah Kogo (27)||KEN||19||debut|| History |
|Lucas Rotich (23)||KEN||N/A||debut|| History |
|Moses Mosop (28)||KEN||N/A||2:03:06, Boston, 2011|| History |
|Ryan Hall (31)||USA||N/A||2:04:58, Boston, 2011|| History |
|Shami Abdullah Dawit (29)||ETH||N/A||2:05:42, Dubai, 2012|| History |
|Laban Korir (28)||KEN||N/A||2:06:05, Amsterdam, 2011|| History |
|Mebrahtom Keflezighi (38)||USA||N/A||2:09:08, 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Men's Marathon, 2012|| History |
|Abdihakem Abdirahman (36)||USA||N/A||2:08:56, Chicago, 2006|| History |
|Eric Gillis (33)||CAN||N/A||2:11:27, Toronto Waterfront, 2011|| History |
|Guor Maker (29)||USA/SSD||N/A||2:12:55, San Diego, 2012|| History |
|Female Elite Athletes|
|Sharon Cherop (29)||KEN||1||2:22:39, Dubai, 2012|| History |
|Meseret Hailu Debele (23)||ETH||2||2:21:09, Amsterdam, 2012|| History |
|Tirfi Tsegaye Beyene (29)||ETH||3||2:21:19, Berlin, 2012|| History |
|Mamitu Daska (30)||ETH||4||2:21:59, Frankfurt, 2011|| History |
|Rita Jeptoo (32)||KEN||5||2:22:04, Chicago, 2012|| History |
|Madai Pérez (33)||MEX||6||2:22:59, Chicago, 2006|| History |
|Alemita Abera Begna (27)||ETH||7||2:23:14, Houston, 2012|| History |
|Kara Goucher (35)||USA||9||2:24:52, Boston, 2011|| History |
|Shalane Flanagan (32)||USA||10||2:25:38, 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Women's Marathon, 2012|| History |
|Ana Dulce Félix (31)||POR||11||2:25:40, New York City, 2011|| History |
|Yolanda Caballero (31)||COL||12||2:26:17, Boston, 2011|| History |
|Sabrina Mockenhaupt (33)||GER||14||2:26:21, Berlin, 2010|| History |
|Diana Chepkemoi Sigei (26)||KEN||15||2:26:53, Dubai, 2011|| History |
|Serena Burla (31)||USA||16||2:28:27, Seoul, 2012|| History |
|Stephanie Rothstein-Bruce (29)||USA||17||2:29:35, Houston, 2011|| History |
|René Kalmer (33)||RSA||18||2:29:59, Yokohama, 2011|| History |
|Diane Nukuri-Johnson (29)||BDI||19||2:30:13, London Olympics, 2012|| History |
|Alissa McKaig (27)||USA||20||2:31:56, 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Women's Marathon, 2012|| History |
|Aselefech Medessa Mergia (28)||ETH||N/A||2:19:31, Dubai, 2012|| History |
|Tetiana Gamera-Shmyrko (30)||UKR||N/A||2:23:58, Osaka, 2013|| History |
|Karolina Jarzynska (32)||POL||N/A||2:27:16, Yokohama, 2011|| History |