FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Joshua Milne
Sports Marketing PR Specialist
John Hancock Financial Services
JOHN HANCOCK ANNOUNCES RETURN OF BOSTON MARATHON
RUNNERS-UP TO 2005 ELITE FIELD
2004 Second Place Finishers Set For Rematch With Defending Champions
BOSTON, MA - March 8, 2005 - John Hancock Financial Services today
announced that 2004 runners-up Elfenesh Alemu of Ethiopia and Robert
Cheboror of Kenya will return to the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 18,
in an effort to dethrone defending champions Catherine Ndereba and Timothy
Last year Alemu finished a slight 16 seconds back from Ndereba's 2:24:27
win, tying the closest one-two women's finish in Boston history. Following
Boston, the rivalry continued at the Athens Olympic Marathon where Ndereba
won the silver medal and Alemu finished fourth. This year the rematch is
significant because Ndereba will seek to establish Boston Marathon history
as the first woman to win the race four times.
Alemu is a two-time Olympian and three-time World Championship finisher and
has run nearly 30 marathons with seven under 2:25 since 2000. Track & Field
News ranked Alemu fourth in the world last year for her Boston performance,
her third place at the Tokyo Marathon and her fourth at the Olympics.
Ndereba was ranked number two in the world. In February, proving she is
ready for the Boston course, Alemu won the challenging and competitive 43rd
San Blas Half Marathon and set a course record along the way. This will be
Alemu's third Boston appearance and she is eager to win. In 2002 she
finished third behind Margaret Okayo and Ndereba.
On the men's side, Robert Cheboror returns to Boston as the second fastest
man in the world last year. Coming off a 2:06:23 win at the 2004 Amsterdam
Marathon, Cheboror is poised to challenge the defending champion Timothy
Cherigat. Last year at Boston in a prophetic statement before only his
second marathon, Cheboror said, "Boston is a tough course, but maybe I am
strong and can do something." He held on to Cherigat until the champion
surged off the Newton hills to secure the win.
Marathoner William Kiplagat discovered Cheboror after he finished third at
the 2001 Kenyan 25K while wearing tennis shoes. Cheboror has leaped to the
top of the running world quickly and confidently. His expectations for
Boston are "that the field will be challenging as there are always strong
athletes there, but I hope I can improve my performance and be the winner
in 2005." In preparation for this year's race, he won the Egmond Half
Marathon in the Netherlands in January.
John Hancock is celebrating the 20th year of its landmark sponsorship of
the Boston Athletic Association's premier event. John Hancock will
announce the international elite field the last week in March.
Find the latest news and information about the Boston Marathon at
About John Hancock and Manulife Financial
John Hancock is a unit of Manulife Financial Corporation, a leading
Canadian-based financial services group serving millions of customers in 19
countries and territories worldwide. Operating as Manulife Financial in
Canada and most of Asia, and primarily through John Hancock in the United
States, the Company offers clients a diverse range of financial protection
products and wealth management services through its extensive network of
employees, agents and distribution partners. Funds under management by
Manulife Financial and its subsidiaries were Cdn$348 billion (US$289
billion) as at December 31, 2004. Manulife Financial Corporation trades as
'MFC' on the TSX, NYSE and PSE, and under '0945' on the SEHK. Manulife
Financial can be found on the Internet at www.manulife.com.
The John Hancock unit, through its insurance companies, comprises one of
the largest life insurers in the United States. John Hancock offers a
broad range of financial products and services, including whole life, term
life, variable life, and universal life insurance, as well as college
savings products, fixed and variable annuities, long-term care insurance,
mutual funds and various forms of business insurance.