The elite field for Boston will see both reigning champions Lelisa Desisa and Rita Jeptoo return to defend their titles, but will be challenged by the races’s fastest ever field, comprising 46 athletes from 13 countries and regions.
It includes Olympic medallists, previous winners of Chicago, New York City, Tokyo and Boston, and champions of more than 80 global marathons.
Seven men in the field have run faster than 2:05:30, including Desisa, who took the silver medal in the marathon at the 2013 IAAF World Championships.
Dennis Kimetto may be Desisa’s strongest challenger. The 29-year-old Kenyan holds the 25km world record and has a marathon best of 2:03:45 from his 2013 Chicago victory when he broke the course record.
“I want another fast time in Boston. The target is to run faster, but we all know that the Boston Marathon course is not certified by the IAAF for a world record so, it is important to win in a faster time, better than what I had in Chicago.”
“I will be carrying along my training partner Simon Kirwa as my pace maker. He is still young and he is learning fast. At 18-years-old, Kirwa is one of the most promising runners and I want him to set the pace for me in Boston,” Kimetto told Xinhua.
Joining the duo is Moses Mosop, who ran the second-fastest time ever run on Boston’s slightly downhill point-to-point course with his 2:03:06 second-place finish in 2011 behind Geoffrey Mutai (2:03:02). Mosop then went on to win the Chicago Marathon later that year.
Ethiopians Gebre Gebremariam and Markos Geneti have also run sub-2:05 and have experience on the course.
Gebremariam has finished third at Boston twice and won in New York City in 2010. Geneti won in Los Angeles and last year finished sixth in Boston.
Micah Kogo, last year’s runner-up and former 10km world-record-holder, returns for redemption after missing the 2013 crown by five seconds.
Other strong challengers will be three-time Amsterdam winner and Rotterdam champion Wilson Chebet and young talent Tilahun Regassa, who has also won in Rotterdam.
They are joined by Frankline Chepkwony, who is a past champion in Seoul and Zurich, world junior record-holder Eric Ndiema, and Hamburg course record-holder Shami Dawud.
On the women’s side, the historic win will be difficult to secure with nine women owning personal best times faster than 2:23.
Headliners include the top four finishers from last year’s race — Rita Jeptoo, Meseret Hailu, Sharon Cherop and Shalane Flanagan.
After winning Boston race for the second time, Jeptoo went on to win in Chicago in 2:19:57 and was the only woman in the world last year to break 2:20.
World half marathon champion Hailu beat 2012 Boston champion Cherop by three seconds to secure second place in Boston last year, having set a course record of 2:21:09 in Amsterdam in 2012.
Cherop returns for her fourth Boston Marathon with an improved personal best of 2:22:38, earned with her runner-up finish in Berlin 2013.
Three-time Olympian Flanagan was in the hunt until the final stretch and finished only seven seconds outside of a podium spot.
Challenging these women will be 2011 Boston Marathon champion Caroline Kilel and 2011 runner-up Desiree Davila-Linden.
Both women are back in top form with Kilel setting a PB of 2:22:34 in Frankfurt and Davila-Linden determined to beat her time of 2:22:38, the fastest performance ever by a US woman in Boston.
Also joining the field are Yeshi Esayias, who has won or placed runner-up in nine marathons; Rotterdam champion Philes Ongori, and world 10,000m bronze medallist Belaynesh Oljira, who is making her transition to the roads.
“The essence of the Boston Marathon has been competition, and the elite athletes bring together a group of competitors who are driven to win,” said Tom Grilk, BAA executive director in a statement.
“In addition to running some of the fastest marathons ever, they represent a group of proven winners who have seized victory across the World Marathon Majors and other leading events, as well as capturing Olympic and World Championship medals. They offer every promise of enriching yet further the competitive lore of Boston.”