FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JOHN HANCOCK FINANCIAL ANNOUNCES TOP CONTENDERS FOR 2009 BOSTON MARATHON
2008 Chicago Winners, Olympians, and Additional Talent
Join the Elite Team to Challenge Defending Champions
BOSTON, MA, February 19, 2009— John Hancock Financial today announced that
the top contenders for the Boston Marathon this year include an elite group
of Olympians, top Americans and international marathon winners. These
athletes will challenge four-time winner Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot of Kenya
and defending women's champion Dire Tune of Ethiopia at the 113th running
of the race on April 20.
The top male contenders include 2008 Chicago champion Evans Cheruiyot of
Kenya, Olympian and 2009 Houston winner Deriba Merga of Ethiopia, and top
American and Olympian Ryan Hall. Evans Cheruiyot ran to a 2:06:25
commanding lead in an unseasonably hot Chicago this past fall and in 2007
won the Milan City Marathon in his debut. Merga shattered the 20-year-old
Houston course record by more than two minutes in January, and he placed
fourth in the Beijing Olympic Marathon. Hall's efforts last year included a
2:06:17 run in London and a tenth place in the Olympic Marathon. He is the
American half-marathoner record holder and currently the fastest American
Added to John Hancock's elite team and chasing the trio are Daniel Rono of
Kenya, with seven top-three finishes in international marathons, including
third in New York City last year; Robert Kiprono (Cheruiyot) of Kenya, who
debuted last year with a 2:07:21 course record in Frankfurt and Gashaw
Asfaw of Ethiopia, who was first in Shanghai, seventh at the Olympic
Marathon and fourth in Boston in 2008.
American Olympian Brian Sell will also challenge, as will American Jason
Lehmkuhle. Sell has experience in Boston, having finished fourth in 2006,
and Lehmkuhle brings potential with a fifth at the U.S. Olympic Marathon
Additional men returning with experience are 2004 Boston champion Timothy
Cherigat and 2007 third place finisher Stephen Kiogora, both of Kenya.
Newcomers on the course include 2008 JoongAng Seoul Marathon winner Solomon
Molla of Ethiopia, Lee Troop of Australia, and debut marathoner Abebe
Dinkesa of Ethiopia.
In the women's race, defending champion Dire Tune of Ethiopia will face
2008 Chicago and 2007 Boston champion Lidiya Grigoryeva of Russia, as well
as her teammates Galina Bogolomova, the Russian national record holder
(2:20:47), and Olympic steeplechaser and World Championships silver
medalist Tatyana Petrova.
Also in contention for the win are 2009 Dubai winner Bezunesh Bekele of
Ethiopia, seasoned marathoner and Olympian Salina Kosgei of Kenya, and
leading American Kara Goucher. In New York City this past fall, Goucher ran
the fastest American debut of all time recording a 2:25:53 over the
challenging course. She also competed in both the 5,000 and 10,000 meters
at the Beijing Olympic Games, finishing ninth and tenth respectively.
Chasing these women are Helena Kirop of Kenya, third in Berlin the past two
years; Atsede Habtamu of Ethiopia, runner up in her debut in Dubai this
year; Alice Timbilili of Kenya and American and two-time Olympian Elva
John Hancock, now in its 24th year as the major sponsor of the Boston
Marathon, will announce its complete international elite team in March.
For more race information, visit www.BostonMarathon.org.