ATHLETICS Preview: Strong field and better conditions for 123rd Boston Marathon on Monday

Des Linden (USA) braving the conditions on the way to winning the 2018 Boston Marathon (Photo: Gr555 via Wikipedia)

The weather was the story of the 2018 Boston Marathon, run in cold, wet and windy conditions hardly suited for racing, but which produced memorable champions in Yuki Kawauchi (JPN: 2:15:58) and Des Linden (2:39:54).

The situation looks a bit better for Monday for the 123rd running of this race, with temperatures projected in the low 60s at race time – some 20 degrees better than last year – but with more rain and plenty of wind, expected to be about 14 miles per hour in the mid-morning.

That should keep the runners cool, but complicate the race for the elite fields that are strong on time. The top men’s entries include 20 athletes with bests under 2:10, including:

Men:
● 2:04:06 Lawrence Cherono (KEN: 2018) ~ Six wins in 13 career marathons
● 2:04:08 Sisay Lemma (ETH: 2018) ~ Frankfurt winner in 2015; dnf in Boston ‘17
● 2:04:33 Lemi Berhanu (ETH: 2018) ~ 2016 winner, but dnf in Boston 2017-18
● 2:04:40 Solomon Deksisa (ETH: 2018) ~ PR for third in Amsterdam 2018
● 2:04:45 Lelisa Desisa (ETH: 2013) ~ Winner in 2013-15; NYC ‘18; Worlds silver ‘13
● 2:05:44 Kenneth Kipkemoi (KEN: 2018) ~ Rotterdam winner 2018 + 4th at Chicago
● 2:06:03 Felix Kandie (KEN: 2017) ~ Seoul 2017 runner-up
● 2:06:13 Festus Talam (KEN: 2017) ~ Eindhoven Marathon winner 2016-17
● 2:06:13 Wesley Korir (KEN: 2012) ~ Won in 2012; finished 5-5-4-15 in 2013-15-16-17
● 2:06:27 Geoffrey Kirui (KEN: 2016) ~ 2017 World Champion; Boston second in 2018

The top U.S. entries include Dathan Ritzenheim (2:07:47 ‘12) and Abdi Abdirahman (2:08:56 ‘08). Japan’s Kawauchi (2:08:14 ‘13) is back to defend his title; this will be his fourth marathon of 2019 already!

Women:
● 2:19:31 Aselefech Mergia (ETH: 2012) ~ New York Marathon runner-up in 2015
● 2:19:50 Edna Kiplagat (KEN: 2012) ~ Winner in 2017; 2011-13 World Champion
● 2:19:52 Mare Dibaba (ETH: 2012) ~ 2015 World Champion; Boston runner-up 2014-15
● 2:19:53 Worknesh Degefa (ETH: 2018) ~ 1-4-2 in Dubai Marathon 2017-18-19
● 2:20:36 Meskerem Assefa (ETH: 2018) ~ Nagoya & Frankfurt winner in 2018
● 2:20:57 Jordan Hasay (USA: 2017) ~ Third in Boston and Chicago 2017
● 2:21:53 Belaynesh Oljira (ETH: 2018) ~ 2013 Worlds 10,000 m bronze; ninth in 2014
● 2:22:28 Sharon Cherop (KEN: 2013) ~ Winner in 2012; fifth in 2015
● 2:22:35 Marta Megra (ETH: 2018) ~ Toronto Marathon winner in 2017
● 2:22:38 Desiree Linden (USA: 2011) ~ Winner in 2018; seventh Boston race

The field also includes 2015 winner Caroline Rotich (KEN: 2:23:22 ‘12), who will be running her fifth Boston Marathon; she didn’t finish in 2017 or last year.

The U.S. entries include Sara Hall (2:26:20 ‘18) and ex-Kenyan Sally Kipyego (2:28:01 ‘16), the 2012 Olympic silver medalist in the 10,000 m who became an American citizen on 25 January 2017.

Hasay showed amazing promise in he first year of marathoning in 2017, with third-place finishes in Boston and Chicago, but ran into injury problems thereafter. She has run twice in 2019, including a third in Roma-Ostia in March (1:11:06). Is she back in shape?

Linden is now 35, proved that she is as mentally tough as anyone anywhere last season and has changed coaches. Will the likely conditions play to her favor again?

The legendary Joan Benoit Samuelson, now 61, will also be running on Monday. She will be celebrating the 40th anniversary of her brilliant 1979 victory in Boston, in 2:35:15, as a student at Bowdoin College in Maine. She made history, of course, winning the first-ever Olympic Marathon in Los Angeles in 1984.

The race has a prize purse of $868,000, with $706,000 allocated to the elite field for places 1-15: $150,000-75,000-40,000-25,000-15,000 on down to $1,500 for 15th place.

NBCSN will have live coverage on Monday beginning at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time, with the women’s race slated to go at 9:32 a.m. Eastern time. Look for results here.

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