Published April 15, 2011
Thousands of runners are flocking to Boston for Monday’s 115th running of the Boston Marathon.
On the men’s side, Kenyan Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot is back to try to defend the title he won in course-record time last April, but he’ll be challenged by a deep, fast field.
Cheruiyot ran 2:05:52 last year, but fellow Kenyan Geoffrey Mutai should challenge him this year. Mutai ran a 2:04:55 in Rotterdam last year, the second fasted marathon time in the world in 2010.
Ryan Hall will try again to break the long American drought in the race. Hall finished fourth last year and third in 2009, and says he is obsessed with winning the Boston Marathon. The last American winner on the men’s side was Greg Meyer in 1983. The race also features newcomers this year, most notably Olympians Alistair Cragg of Ireland and Moses Mosop of Kenya.
The women’s race has been decided by three seconds or less the last three years. Ethiopia’s Teyba Erkesso won the 2010 race and is back to defend her title against two other past champions, Dire Tune of Ethiopia and Catherine Ndereba of Kenya. Ndereba is a four-time winner.
Kara Goucher carries the American hope on the women’s side. Goucher finished third in 2009, but took last year off while she was pregnant.
“My return to running has gone very well,” said Goucher, who gave birth to a son in September 2010. “I can’t think of a better place than Boston to pick up where I left off. The 2009 Boston Marathon stands as the highlight of my career. I wished I could have won, but I did the best I could and Boston embraced me for that.”
Another woman to watch is former Providence College star Kim Smith, an Olympian from New Zealand who will be running Boston for the first time.
A sentimental favorite is Joan Benoit Samuelson, a two-time Boston winner. She hasn’t run the race since 1983, but the 53-year-old Maine native has been enjoying a late-career resurgence after her performance in the 2008 Olympic Trials race, which was also held in Boston. Samuelson needs to run 2:46 or better to qualify for the trials again.
Record-breaking South African Ernst Van Dyk is aiming for his 10th Boston win in the men’s wheelchair race, and Japan’s Wakado Tscuhida could win her fifth straight.
This weekend, the Boston Athletic Association will honor several past champions of the race, including American Jean Driscoll, who won the women’s wheelchair race eight times. She held the record for most Boston wins until last year, when it was shattered by Van Dyk.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misstated the number of years since Joan Benoit Samuelson competed in the Boston Marathon.