The 2013 Boston Marathon champions, Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa and Kenya’s Rita Jeptoo, will defend their titles at the 118th running of the race on April 21, the organisers of the IAAF Gold Label Road Race announced on Wednesday (11).
The early miles of this year’s race were typically strategic over the historic Hopkinton-to-Boston course.
In the closing stages, three runners broke away from the pack to battle for the famous olive wreath.
Running shoulder-to-shoulder, Desisa, his compatriot Gebre Gebremariam and Kenya’s Micah Kogo dug deep into their reserves as they turned right on Hereford and left on Boylston Street down the home stretch.
The day, however, belonged to Desisa.
Shifting to a higher gear on Boylston, he left his challengers behind, breaking the tape in 2:10:22, seven seconds ahead of Kogo and eight seconds in front of Gebremariam.
Desisa, 23, also won the Marathon silver medal at the 2013 IAAF World Championships.
Two months after the Boston Marathon, Desisa returned to participate in the B.A.A. 10K and gifted his Boston Marathon winner’s medal to the City of Boston to honour the victims and families affected by the tragic events of April 15, 2013.
He returned to Boston again in October to set a new course record at the B.A.A. Half Marathon.
“I am very excited to return to Boston this spring to show that we are united in our athletic community and are ready to stand up and show the world we are not afraid,” said Desisa.
“Boston is the most historic race in our world of athletics and to win Boston means so much; it is such an honor. I expect to give my best effort to defend my Boston Marathon title.
“I know it will not be easy and the day will be much more than a race to most people, but right now my goal is to honor the day and repeat as champion.”
In the women’s race earlier this year, experience proved the key as Kenya’s Rita Jeptoo, the 2006 Boston champion, returned to win in commanding fashion.
In a race that saw many different leaders, Jeptoo waited until mile 23 to break away. Three rivals initially followed her but Jeptoo was to prove to be too strong and won by 33 seconds in 2:26:25.
In October, Jeptoo won the Chicago Marathon in 2:19:57, setting the fastest time in the world this year and she is also past champion of marathons in Stockholm, Milan and Eldoret.
She has finished in the top six at Boston on five occasions.
“Winning the Boston Marathon for me in 2013 was fantastic, especially to come back and win again after 2006, has shown my potential,” said Jeptoo.
“But, of course, my victory last year was not as important as helping the victims of the bombs, and the families who were affected by the terrible tragedy.
“Coming back is so nice for me to try to win again and hopefully to bring some hope and joy to families and to the injured. It also will be an honor to run Boston again to show the world that we don’t give in to fear,” she added.
“We are delighted to have both Rita and Lelisa join us again in 2014 for the 118th Boston Marathon,” said Tom Grilk, B.A.A. Executive Director.
“Both of these champions posted outstanding performances at the 2013 Marathon, winning over world class competition. The B.A.A. and many others who will recognize the significance of their return in 2014 after the attack on the City of Boston in 2013 will celebrate their participation.”
The 2014 Boston Marathon also marks the 29th year of John Hancock’s landmark sponsorship of the legendary race.
Organisers for the IAAF