FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JOHN HANCOCK FINANCIAL ANNOUNCES RETURN OF DEFENDING CHAMPIONS TO RUN
2009 BOSTON MARATHON
Four-time Boston Winner and 2007 World Marathon Majors Champion
Robert K. Cheruiyot and 2008 Boston Winner Dire Tune set
to defend their titles on April 20
BOSTON, MA, January 27, 2009-John Hancock Financial, in its 24th year as
principal sponsor of the Boston Marathon, today announced the return of
four-time champion Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot of Kenya and women's winner
Dire Tune of Ethiopia for the 113th running of the race on April 20.
"I'd like to thank John Hancock for inviting me back to race in Boston
again," said Cheruiyot. "Boston is one of my favorite races, and I am
training as hard as I can to try to win for the fifth time if possible and
run my best time."
The winner in 2003 and 2006-08, Cheruiyot is the youngest man and first
Kenyan to win four Boston Marathons. Last year, he won the race after
surging off the Newton hills and away from his competitors. He crossed the
finish line in a commanding lead, just 32 seconds off his 2006 course
record of 2:07:14.
In a memorable 2007 race, Cheruiyot battled the remnants of a stormy
Nor'easter to claim his third win and secure the inaugural World Marathon
Majors Series title. The series, now entering its third two-year cycle,
brings together the best athletes in the world to compete in Boston,
London, Berlin, Chicago and New York.
Cheruiyot shares the honor of at least four Boston wins with Gerard Cote
and Bill Rodgers (4 wins each) and Clarence DeMar (7 wins). He is also the
only man to win marathons in Boston and Chicago in the same year (2006) and
was the 2002 Milan City Marathon champion.
Boston's 2008 women's champion, 22-year old Dire Tune of Ethiopia,
prevailed in the tightest race in Boston Marathon history last year as she
found herself ahead of former champions Lidiya Grigoryeva and Rita Jeptoo.
With great resolve, Tune triumphed in a back and forth duel over the
closing miles with Russian Alevtina Biktimirova to win by two seconds in
"Since I was a young girl, I always dreamed to come and compete in the
Boston Marathon," said Tune. "My dream came true not only to come to
Boston, but to win. Now I have an unbelievable determination to defend my
title. Boston has become a special place for me, and I thank the sponsor
John Hancock for the opportunity."
In 2008, Tune also won the Houston Marathon, established the world record
for the One Hour Run (18.517km), finished 15th at the Beijing Olympic
Marathon, and placed seventh in New York City. She is also the 2007
Houston Marathon winner and the 2006 Hong Kong Marathon winner.
"We are proud that both of our defending champions have chosen to return
for the 113th Boston Marathon," said Guy Morse, Executive Director of the
Boston Athletic Association. "No one can forget Dire's sprint to victory in
2008, and of course Robert will be looking to make history, so fans can
expect an exciting race from both of these champions."
"Throughout our 24 year sponsorship, John Hancock Financial has had the
honor and pleasure of bringing to the Boston Marathon each year many of the
world's top runners like Robert and Dire. Having the world's best here year
after year ensures that the Boston Marathon remains one of the world's
premier road races," said John D. DesPrez III, President and Chief
Executive Officer of John Hancock Financial. "We are very excited for
Robert as he goes for his fifth Boston victory and his fourth in a row. We
are equally pleased to have Dire back after providing us with the most
exciting finish to the women's division in the history of the race.
"As we once again fulfill our promise to the city of Boston and surrounding
communities to support this great race, we are very pleased that the Boston
Marathon can provide such a tremendous positive economic effect on the
region, particularly during the challenging economic times that we all face
now. This race will generate a direct and indirect economic impact
estimated at $95 million for Boston and the region."