The Kenyan luminaries face former champions of the hilly course in titleholder and American idol, Meb Keflezighi and 2013 winner, Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa in their bid to bounce back to the high table of ultimate distance running after recent lean seasons.
Kirui, 32, who warmed for Boston with a sixth finish (61:22) at the Barcelona Half Marathon on February 15, is still seeking a first World Marathon Majors (WMM) victory outside the IAAF World Championships having won the Berlin 2009 and Daegu 2011 editions.
The Olympics silver medallist will be making his first appearance in Boston having finished 10th (2:09:04) and sixth (2:09:45) in Tokyo and Amsterdam last year as he seeks to re-establish himself as a force in marathon running following injury-blighted seasons after being led by Uganda’s Stephen Kiprotich to the line at London 2012.
Makau, 30, has seen a promising career blighted by injury having established himself as an elite circuit racer with two victories in Berlin in 2010 (2:05:08) and 2011 when he ran the 2:03:38 world record that has since been dropped twice on the same course by Wilson Kipsang (2:03:24/2013) and Dennis Kimetto (2:02:58) last year.
He announced his return to the middle step of the podium by taking last year’s Fukuoka race in 2:08:22 on December 7 and he is also making his first appearance in the oldest city marathon that runs across seven towns with four hills to tackle, including the notorious that runs through Newton famously known as ‘heartbreak hill’.
Wilson Chebet, 29, who finished second last year in 2:08:48 is hoping its third time lucky for him in Boston tasted victory in Honolulu last fall in 2:15:35 on December 14 and has unfinished business in the race he finished fifth (2:14:56) in 2012 on his debut.
The three-time Amsterdam winner’s mastery of the course and his promise not to sit back places him at an advantage over his compatriots as they run through the towns of Hopkinton, Ashland, Framingham, Natick, Wellesley, Newton and Brookline.
Geoffrey Mutai ran the astonishing 2:03:02 course record in 2011 that shaded Makau’s world record since the elevation drop of the Boston course is not permissible for consideration as an official standard.
Ethiopia’s Yemane Tsegaye and Tadese Tola make five men in the field with sub-2:05 PBs, with those two at 2:04:48 and 2:04:49 from Rotterdam 2012 and Dubai 2013 respectively.
-Cherop, Kilel duel-
Kenyan aspirations for the title in the women’s field rests on two former champions Sharon Cherop (2013) and Caroline Kilel (2011).
Cherop is the fastest from code 254 in the field with a 2:22:28 PB, but both she and Kilel know the feeling of coming down the last straight on Boyleston Street with the race still undecided.
Buzunesh Deba was runner-up in 2014 and has the fastest Boston time of any of the women entered: her PB of 2:19:59 was set here last year.
The Ethiopian is based in New York City and is a familiar face there, placing second in that race twice.
All 15 of her career marathons to date have been in the US and she has finished in the top two in 12 of those, winning eight of them. But her last victory was in 2011.
Local hopes are headlined by Shalane Flanagan who has a faster lifetime best to Kilel and Sherop having ran 2:21:14 in Berlin last year and Desiree Linden nee Davila who nearly stole victory from the former in 2011 in an epic close finish.
-Additional material from IAAF