BOSTON, USA, January 28 – Four-time Boston winner and 2007 World Marathon Majors Champion Robert Cheruiyot and 2008 Boston winner Dire Tune are set to defend their Boston Marathon titles on 20 April 2009 at the 113th running of the race.
“I’d like to thank John Hancock for inviting me back to race in Boston again,” said Cheruiyot. “Boston is one of my favorite races, and I am training as hard as I can to try to win for the fifth time if possible and run my best time.”
The winner in 2003 and 2006-08, Cheruiyot is the youngest man and first Kenyan to win four Boston Marathons. Last year, he won the race after surging off the Newton hills and away from his competitors. He crossed the finish line in a commanding lead, just 32 seconds off his 2006 course record of 2:07:14.
In a memorable 2007 race, Cheruiyot battled the remnants of a stormy Nor’easter to claim his third win and secure the inaugural World Marathon Majors Series title. The series, now entering its third two-year cycle, brings together the best athletes in the world to compete in Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York.
Cheruiyot shares the honour of at least four Boston wins with Gerard Cote and Bill Rodgers (4 wins each) and Clarence DeMar (7 wins). He is also the only man to win marathons in Boston and Chicago in the same year (2006) and was the 2002 Milan City Marathon champion.
Boston’s 2008 women’s champion, 22-year old Dire Tune of Ethiopia, prevailed in the tightest race in Boston Marathon history last year as she found herself ahead of former champions Lidiya Grigoryeva and Rita Jeptoo.
With great resolve, Tune triumphed in a back and forth duel over the closing miles with Russian Alevtina Biktimirova to win by two seconds in 2:25:25.
“Since I was a young girl, I always dreamed to come and compete in the Boston Marathon,” said Tune. “My dream came true not only to come to Boston, but to win. Now I have an unbelievable determination to defend my title. Boston has become a special place for me, and I thank the sponsor John Hancock for the opportunity.”
In 2008, Tune also won the Houston Marathon, established the World record for the One Hour Run (18.517km) on the track, finished 15th at the Beijing Olympic Marathon, and placed seventh in New York City. She is also the 2007 Houston Marathon winner and the 2006 Hong Kong Marathon winner.
“We are proud that both of our defending champions have chosen to return for the 113th Boston Marathon,” said Guy Morse, Executive Director of the Boston Athletic Association. “No one can forget Dire’s sprint to victory in 2008, and of course Robert will be looking to make history, so fans can expect an exciting race from both of these champions.”
“Throughout our 24 year sponsorship, John Hancock Financial has had the honour and pleasure of bringing to the Boston Marathon each year many of the world’s top runners like Robert and Dire. Having the world’s best here year after year ensures that the Boston Marathon remains one of the world’s premier road races,” said John D. DesPrez III, President and Chief Executive Officer of John Hancock Financial.