To celebrate the return of the Boston Marathon to Massachusetts Patriots Day for the first time since 2019, a loaded elite men’s and women’s peloton will head from Hopkinton to Copley Square on Monday.
“It’s just beautiful, and I’m not exaggerating,” veteran road running and track and field analyst Larry Rawson, who will work on Monday’s international broadcast, said of the quality of the field. “The men’s field is talented and deep, with quality and many former champions.
“Without London competing with all the money they have, the athletes had several options, but the best was Boston.”
No less than 11 men have personal bests under 2 hours 6 minutes and seven of Boston’s last eight champions are listed.
It’s the 50th anniversary of the first official women’s peloton to run Boston, and there were eight finishers in that race, back in 1972. This year, 10 women in the peloton ran in under 2:23. Over 12,000 women are enrolled in the field this year.
Headlining the women’s field are last summer’s Olympic gold and bronze medalists – champion Peres Jepchirchir of Kenya and third-place finisher Molly Seidel of the United States.
“Four of the seven highest ranked women in the world are here to face off in Boston,” Rawson said.
Benson Kipruto and Diana Kipyokei, both from Kenya, were the men’s and women’s winners on October 11, the first time the event was held in the fall. COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the 2020 race and the postponement from April 2021 to the fall.
Sure, there will only be 189 days between the Boston Marathons, but it will be the Patriots’ first day in 1,099 days.
The field for the 126th race, which was reduced to 20,000 for October in part due to the pandemic, returned to around 30,000 for Monday’s race.
Wheelchair divisions begin just after 9:00 a.m. EDT, with the elite men’s peloton at 9:37 a.m. and the elite women’s at 9:45 a.m. Para-athletics divisions begin at 9:50 a.m., followed by the four waves of the rest of the peloton at 10 a.m.
Here is an overview of some stars of the international field:
Age: 27 years old
Berhanu has won six marathons in international competitions, including Boston in 2016, and he finished second in last October’s event. In January before his victory in Boston, he was runner-up in Dubai but with a personal best of 2:04:33. He outlasted defending champion Lelisa Desisa in Boston in 2:12:45. Bernanu twice placed second behind Kipruto, at 2019 Toronto (2:05:09) and 2021 Boston (2:10:37). He finished fourth in the 2017 New York City Marathon (2:11:52).
Age: 33 years old
Chebet will look for a much more rewarding experience this year in Boston, where he failed to finish in his previous trial in 2018. After that, he finished second in Milan and first in Buenos Aires in 2019, then set the fastest time in the world in 2020 (2:03.00 in Valencia, Spain) after winning at Lake Biwa (2:07:29) in March. Chebet has placed in the top six in every marathon he has completed, including fourth at London 2021 (2:05:43).
Age: 32 years old
Desisa’s 2013 victory in Boston was overshadowed by tragedy, and he returned his winner’s medal to the city to honor the victims of the bombing near the finish line. He won his second Boston two years later, clocking 2:09:17. Desisa, whose personal best is 2:04:45, reached the podium after eight World Marathon Majors, including two seconds in Boston, and two thirds, one second and one victory in New York (2018). His CV also includes victories at the World Championships, in 2013 in Moscow and in 2019 in Doha.
Kipruto launched a timely push down the 22nd mile to victory last October in Boston, finishing in 2:09:51, his third career marathon win. Earlier in the year, he won in Prague (2:10:16). On February 20, he finished second in the Guadalajara Half Marathon in 1:01:30, with his personal best in this distance being 1:00:06 in 2020 in Prague, Czech Republic. He won the 2019 Toronto Marathon with a personal best of 2:05.13.
Age: 27 years old
Legese, a two-time Tokyo Marathon winner, has run five marathons in less than 2:05 hours, and he has the best personal best in that area from Boston (2:02:48, 2019 Berlin). He has no victory to show for his three best marathon times – second in Berlin, third in Valencia, Spain (2:03:16) and sixth in Dubai (2:04:15). His first victory in Tokyo came in cold and rainy conditions. Legese currently holds a world No. 2 ranking in Boston, and has already been No. 1 for 99 weeks.
Age: 23 years old
Azimeraw is a runner to watch on the world stage, with considerable success already early in her career. At just 20, she broke the Amsterdam Marathon record on her first attempt at 26.2 miles in 2019, posting a 2:19:26, the second-fastest start for a woman over the distance. She withdrew less than a week after the 2020 London Marathon after testing positive for COVID-19, but last year she moved up to second in London, clocking 2:17:58.
Age: 28 years old
After becoming a world-class half-marathoner, Jepchirchir rose through the ranks to become a runner to beat on the world marathon circuit. Jepchirchir, who clocked a personal best 2:17:16 in Valencia in 2020, had a standout 2021, winning Olympic gold in Sapporo (2:27:20) in August and then even bettering that time in winning the New York City Marathon (2:22:39) in November, becoming the first to win at the Olympics and New York in the same year.
The first Kenyan to break six world records in six months, Jepkosgei is a former half marathon world record holder, the first woman to break 65 minutes (1:04:51, Prague, 2017). She made her New York Marathon debut in 2019, with a victory in 2:22:38, the second fastest on the women’s course. Jepkosgei was nearly five minutes behind in their win in London last year, posting a personal best 2:17:43.
Age: 42 years old
She was born in the 70s, but Kiplagat showed she was still a force in the World Marathon Majors last October by finishing second in Boston for the second time. His victory in Boston in 2017 is one of three majors in the marathon, with six second places and one third. Kiplagat also won the 2011 and 2013 World Championships and finished second in 2017. His best time is 2:19:50, but that was while finishing second in London 10 years ago.
Age: 25 years old
She has only run a marathon once, but finished second to Nancy Jelagat in Valencia last December in 2:20:16. Woldu won over distances between 10,000 meters and the half marathon. In 2018, she clocked a personal best of 1:09:22 at the Istanbul Half Marathon, less than a month after posting 1:11:27 in Lisbon. That year she also won a 10K in Washington. She perfected herself with a personal best of 10 km at the end of March at 33:00 in Ethiopia.