FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JOHN HANCOCK FINANCIAL ANNOUNCES TOP MALE
CONTENDERS FOR 2008 BOSTON MARATHON
Defending Champion Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot Aims To Be First Four-Time
Winner From Kenya
2007 Chicago Champion Patrick Ivuti And 2007 Boston Runner-Up James
Kwambai Headline List Of Top International Challengers
BOSTON, MA, February 27, 2008-In its 23rd year as the principal sponsor of
the Boston Marathon, John Hancock Financial announced their team of top
male contenders for the 112th running of the race on April 21.
Three-time Boston Champion Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot is set to defend his
title against 2007 Chicago Champion Patrick Ivuti, 2007 Boston Runner-up
James Kwambai and 15 other top international athletes.
Cheruiyot, the course record holder and winner in 2003, 2006 and 2007, has
added incentive to win as he will seek to become the first Kenyan to claim
four Boston Marathon crowns. Cheruiyot also won Chicago in 2006, Milan in
2002 and was named the inaugural World Marathon Majors Series Champion last
Leading this year's challenges is 2007 Chicago Marathon winner Patrick
Ivuti of Kenya, who is determined to begin his own legacy on the Boston
course. In one of the most exciting marathon finishes of all time, Ivuti
won in Chicago last year by .05 of a second over two-time World Champion
Jaouad Gharib of Morocco. He also bested Cheruiyot in the pair's first
head-to-head marathon, as Cheruiyot finished fourth after fading from the
leaders in the oppressive heat.
A two-time World Cross Country silver medalist, Ivuti also competed in the
10,000m at the Sydney Olympics where he finished fourth, less than a second
out of the medals. Ivuti excelled in his 2005 marathon debut turning in a
fast 2:07:46 in Chicago. In 2007 he won the Prague Half Marathon in a
course record 1:01:00 and in Rotterdam improved his personal best to 59:27.
John Hancock also announced the return of 2007 runner up James Kwambai, who
showed his potential by challenging Cheruiyot until the final mile last
year. Kwambai debuted in 2006, winning his first two marathons in Brescia
and Beijing. With experience on the course now and respect for Cheruiyot's
racing strategy, Kwambai is determined to win this year.
"Since I was young, I have worked hard to be a good athlete, and I hope to
be able to realize this dream by making a good result in the Boston
Marathon," he said.
Additional top contenders on the John Hancock Elite Team include last
year's third place finisher Stephen Kiogora of Kenya and Gashaw Asfaw of
Ethiopia, the 2006 Paris winner and 2007 Paris and Mumbai runner up. Also
at the start will be Abderrahime Bouramdane of Morocco, the 2007 runner up
in Seoul and Ottawa and past winner of Tunis, Marrakesh and Ottawa, and
William Kiplagat of Kenya, who was runner up in Lake Biwa in 2007 and past
winner in Seoul and Rotterdam.
Other athletes of note include Shadrack Kiplagat of Kenya, a 2:07
marathoner, and Christopher Cheboiboch, a past Boston and New York City
runner up and 2007 Las Vegas winner.
Young talent set for this world class race includes 21-year-old Yirefu
Birhanu of Ethiopia, who won Baltimore in 2006 and finished third in Seoul
in 2007, and 23-year-old James Mwangi Macharia of Kenya, who finished
second in Vienna in 2007 in his marathon debut.
These top athletes will join the complete John Hancock Elite Team, which
will be announced in March.