Kosgei to defend title

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BOSTON, April 18 – Kenya's Salina Kosgei will be out to defend her women's Boston Marathon title on Monday at 4.15 pm Kenyan time.

Her compatriot Catherine Ndereba, a four-time winner, withdrew last week with a muscle tear.

Last year’s men’s winner Deriba Merga of Ethiopia is back to defend his crown, with a string of US runners – led by Meb Keflezighi – hoping to end America’s title drought in the venerable race on Monday.

Keflezighi, who makes his home in California, is the reigning New York City Marathon title holder. He and fellow Californian Ryan Hall give the US a real chance to claim a first men’s victory in 27 years.

The way may have been made easier when four-time Boston winner Robert Cheruiyot pulled out with a hip injury.

However, nine Kenyans remain in the field hoping to give the country its sixth title in eight years.

It has been 24 years since an American woman won in Boston – when Lisa Larsen-Wiedenbach triumphed in 1985.

Greg Meyer, whose victory in 1983 was the seventh for a US man in nine years – and the most recent – would like to lose the tag of last American man to win here.

"We thought it would keep going on. … I thought I’d do it again," Meyer said. "But for American marathoners, that was the high-water mark."

"By me winning New York, it’s an example that it can happen," said Keflezighi, who lives near Hall and trains with him in Mammoth Lakes, California. "We both badly want to win – not for our individual goals only, but for the USA."

Keflezighi says he’s 95 percent recovered from a left knee injury he suffered in training in January.

The 2004 Olympic silver medallist, Keflezighi finished third in Boston in 2006.

Hall ran 2hr 6min 17secs in London in 2008. Moroccan Abderrahim Goumri is the only runner in the field with a faster personal best, at 2:05:30.

"They are at the top of the list – up there with the Kenyans and Ethiopians," Boston race director Guy Morse said. "Having the two top American men participate, head-to-head, is a little bit more insurance that you could have a US winner."

Hall led early in Boston last year, but faded in the last 10 miles. He has put in significant training time in the area to prepare for the demanding course – especially the notorious Heartbreak Hill.

"I think I’ve learned more from the last three weeks than I did from last year," he said. "I don’t remember much from last year. I remember hurting really bad. This time, I feel prepared."

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