The International 2014 Boston Marathon Women’s Field

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by LetsRun.com
April 17, 2014

Yesterday John Hancock, which is in charge of securing the elite field for the Boston Marathon, sent out an updated list of the pros competing in Monday’s race. You can see the entire list of elites for the women’s race on the right below.

The field is full of quality. It includes 12 women with pbs under 2:24:00, including three past champions with two-time and defending champ Rita Jeptoo (2013, 2006), Sharon Cherop (2012) and Caroline Kilel in the field (2011).

WOMEN Personal Best Time Country
Mare Dibaba 2:19:52 (Dubai, 2012) Ethiopia
Rita Jeptoo 2:19:57 (Chicago, 2013) Kenya
Jemima Jelagat Sumgong 2:20:48 (Chicago, 2013) Kenya
Meselech Melkamu 2:21:01 (Frankfurt) CR Kenya
Eunice Kirwa 2:21:41 (Amsterdam, 2012) Kenya
Sharon Cherop 2:22:28 (Berlin, 2013) Kenya
Caroline Kilel 2:22:34 (Frankfurt, 2013) Kenya
Desiree Linden 2:22:38 (Boston, 2011) USA
Flomena Chepchichir 2:23:00 (Frankfurt, 2013) Kenya
Buzunesh Deba 2:23:19 (New York, 2011) Ethiopia
Tatiana Petrova Arkhipova 2:23:29 (London, 2012) Russia
Aleksandra Duliba 2:23:44 (Chicago, 2013) NR Belarus
Yeshi Esayias 2:24:06 (Frankfurt, 2013) Ethiopia
Philes Ongori 2:24:20 (Rotterdam, 2011) Kenya
Belaynesh Oljira 2:25:01 (Dubai, 2013) Ethiopia
Shalane Flanagan 2:25:38 (Houston, 2012) USA
Lanni Marchant 2:28:00 (Toronto, 2013) Canada
Serena Burla 2:28:01 (Amsterdam, 2013) USA
Noriko Higuchi 2:28:49 (Tokyo, 2011) Japan
Adriana Nelson 2:28:52 (London, 2008) USA
Adriana Aparecida da Silva 2:29:17 (Tokyo, 2012) Brazil

Given the bombings of last year, the desire for an American victor in Boston, which has never happened since Boston started giving our prize money (1985 Lisa Larsen Weidenbach), will be even greater than normal this year. The good news for American fans is America’s top two marathoners – world marathon major runners-up by either Shalane Flanagan (2nd NY in 2010) and Desiree Linden (Davila) (2nd Boston 2010) – are both in the Boston field.

Just was the case was with the men, we have decided to kick off our pre-race coverage by profiling only the elite foreign women. Don’t worry, we’ll get to the Americans later in the week. We think it’s almost criminal how the foreign stars are lumped together as ‘the Kenyans’ and ‘the Ethiopians.’

Don’t get mad. We’re like your parents back in the day. We’re forcing you to eat your vegetables before you get to the dessert.

Below, we give you insight on the 11 foreigners in the field who have broken 2:24 in their careers.

We’ve broken them down into a few groups – “The favorite and defending champion”, “Five very worthy challengers if Jeptoo falters,” “2 more very worthy challengers we just don’t think are winning in 2014″,”It would be a big surprise,” “We don’t see how she’s a potential winner” and “The wildcard.” Within each group, we wimped out and just listed people by their PRs but hopefully the groups help give you a good idea of what to expect on Monday.

We’ll have much more later in the week.

The Favorite and Defending Champion

Rita Jeptoo happy to be on top in Boston again.

Rita Jeptoo last year *2013 Boston Photos

#1 Rita Jeptoo- Kenya, 33 years old, 2:19:57 (Chicago 2013), 66:27, 31:36
Why She’s The Favorite: Defending champ (Also won Boston in 2006). Had incredible 2013 as after winning Boston 7 years after her first victory she set pb and won Chicago later in the year where she was truly incredible after 30k (18.6 miles). From 30k to the finish, she ran 5:09.5 pace – that’s 2:15 marathon pace and was faster than the following elite men 5th place Dathan Ritzenhein (5:15 pace), 6th placer Ayale Abshero 42:05 (5:33 pace), 8th placer Moses Mosop (5:42 pace) and 10th placer Matt Tegenkamp (5:16.9 pace). Second best pb in field.
What’s Not To Like: Not a whole lot. Last year, she ran 66:27 at the  Half leading into Boston and was third. This year, she was 5th and ran 68:49.
Prep Races: In addition to RAK half, she also was third in an xc race in Kenya on January 26.
You Should Root For Her If: You’re a mom and are better than ever after having kids. Jeptoo was away from the sport in 2009 and 2010 and is much better now than before.

5 Very Worthy Challengers If Jeptoo Falters

#2-6 Mare Dibaba - Ethiopia, 24 years old, 2:19:52 (Dubai 2012), 67:13
Why She’s One Of The Favorites: Has the fastest pb of anyone in the field. Has been racing well in 2014.
What’s Not To Like: 3rd in Rome in 2010, 3rd in LA and 2nd in Toronto in 2011, 3rd in Dubai and 23rd at the Olympics in 2012. Results like that don’t give you a lot of confidence that she’s about to win a Major. Also has she been racing too much in 2014 to make up for fact she finished zero marathons last year (see below)?
Prep Races: 2:21:36 win at Xiamen marathon on China on January 2nd, then 68:56 6th place showing at RAK Half on Valentine’s Day – seven seconds behind Jeptoo.
You Should Root For Her If: You think running is all about PRs. She’s got the best pb of anyone in the field.

#2-6 Jemima Jelagat (Sumgong) - Kenya, 29 years old, 2:20:48 (Chicago 2013), 68:35.
Why She’s One Of The Favorites: In her first six marathons, she never ran faster than 2:29:41 but last year she was a totally different runner. She had a 6+ minute pb to win in Rotterdam in the spring (2:23:27) and was second to Jeptoo in Chicago in another pb (2:20:48) in the fall. So she took nearly 9 minutes of her pb in 2013. She also has good experience in Boston as she nearly won Boston in 2012 as she was just two seconds off of the victory in 2:31:52 (hot race day). Comes from a top-notch group as she trains with Rita Jeptoo and is coached by Claudio Beradelli.
What’s Not To Like: Not a whole lot. Seems to be finding her stride. 68:48 isn’t terrible fast (see below).
Prep Races: Beat Jeptoo by 10 seconds in a cross country race in Kenya on January 26th. Then got 4th at Kenyan xc champs. Also ran 68:48 half in Lisbon (2nd place in March) – which is just 13 seconds off her pb.
You Should Root For Her If: You believe someone who continually knocks on the door deserves to be let in. She’s had three great marathons in a row and has been second at her last two Majors. Does she win World Marathon Major (WMM) #1?

Meselech Melkamu will need to run than she did in London 2013. *2013 London Photos

Meselech Melkamu will need to run than she did in London 2013. *2013 London Photos

#2-6 Meselech Melkamu – Ethiopia, 28 years old, 2:21:01 (Frankfurt 2012) CR, 68:05, 29:53 for 10,000
Why She’s One Of The Favorites: She’s the second fastest woman in history for 10,000 who debuted at 26.2 with a course record of 2:21:01 in Frankfurt in 2012. Given that, one likely would think she’d be a Major winner by now with a sub 2:20 pb. However, she struggled in 2013 (2:25:46 (5th in London) and DNF at Worlds) but seems to have turned things around in 2014 as she was second in Dubai in January in 2:25:23 (winning time 2:25:01).
What’s Not To Like: Two marathons in 3 months is always pushing it.
Prep Races: None since Dubai.
You Should Root For Her If: You believe in starting your career on the track. 29:53 is FAST for any human, particularly a woman.

#2-6 Sharon Cherop - Kenya, 30 years old, 2:22:28 (Berlin 2013), 67:08, 32:03
Why She Could Win: Former Boston champ (2012) who was also third in Boston in 2011 (last of the three in the incredible sprint finish with Kilel and Davila) and 2013. Incredibly consistent the last few years. Has run 10 marathons since 2010 and the ‘worst’ one is probably a 2:22:39 7th place showing in Dubai in 2012 and that’s an absurd statement as that was a pb for her at the time. Our point? Every time she toes the line, she seems to put forth a good performance.
What’s Not To Like: She’s run 3 marathons in both 2012 and 2013.
Prep Races: 9th at Kenyan xc champs (18 seconds behind Jelagat). 68:51 half marathon (2nd place, winner ran 68:48) in Ostia on March 2nd.
You Should Root For Her If: You think it’s going to be hot on Monday. Cherop proved in 2012 that she’s a good hot weather runner. She also has a bronze medal from Worlds 2011 in warm conditions.

Buzunesh Deba (l.) and Worku Beyi (r.) in advance of the 2013 Chevron Houston Marathon.  (photo by David Monti for Race Results Weekly)

Buzunesh Deba (l.) and Worku Beyi (r.) in advance of the 2013 Chevron Houston Marathon.
(photo by David Monti for Race Results Weekly)

#2-6 Bezunesh Deba - Ethiopia, 26 years old, 2:23:19 (New York 2011), 68:59 (set last month in New York), 32:10
Why She Could Win: Two-time New York city runner-up comes into Boston after setting a half marathon pb last month in New York.
What’s Not To Like: She clearly likes hill courses (NY) but has never run Boston before.
Prep Races: Set half marathon pb in New York.
You Should Root For Her If: Two reasons.

1) You want to see an American resident win Boston. We know everyone dreams of seeing an American winner once again in Boston, but if Desiree Linden (Davila) or Shalane Flanagan are unable to get the job done, then Deba is the next best thing. She lives in the Bronx and her husband and coach Worku Beyi is a LetsRun.com fan who wanted his picture taken with us in NY in 2012. We wonder if she might try to become a US citizen and compete for the US in the 2016 or 2020 Olympics.

2) You love people who don’t need a rabbit. Deba deserves big-time props for nearly stealing last year’s New York City Marathon. Remember, she just ran her own race and got a 3 minute lead on Priscah Jeptoo before being run down late.

More: *LRC Archives: IN PARTNERSHIP, DEBA AND BEYI REACH TOP OF MARATHON GAME
*Discount Firehiwot Dado and Buzunesh Deba At Your Own Peril, The Two Ethiopians Say They’ve Been Training Better Than Ever

2 More Very Worth Challengers We Don’t Think Are Winning In 2014

#8-9 Eunice Kirwa (Jepkirui) - Kenya, 29 years old, 2:21:41 (Amsterdam 2012), 68:39, 31:57
Why She Could Win: 2:21 pb and has broken 2:24 two other times.
What’s Not To Like: Does someone who was 2nd in Xiamen (China), third in Paris and 5th in Frankfurt last year normally win Boston?
Prep Races: 68:59 (4th place) in Lisbon in March – 11 seconds behind Jelagat.
You Should Root For Her If: You like big upset or you started your career as a 1500 runner. She ran World Youths back in the day in the 1500.

Caroline Kilel won in Boston in 2011. 2011 Boston Photos

Caroline Kilel won in Boston in 2011. *2011 Boston Photos

#8-9 Caroline Kilel - Kenya, 33 years old, 2:22:34 (Frankfurt 2013), 68:16, 31:58
Why She Could Win: Past Boston champion (2011). She’s the won who edged American Desiree Davila in the epic 2011 Boston Marathon. Set a pb and got the win in her last marathon in October.
What’s Not To Like: Her prep races (see below) haven’t instilled confidence and have made us very nervous.
Prep Races: 3 Half Marathons – 4th in 73:06 on January 12th, 10th at RAK Half on February 14th (70:33) and 5th in NY in March (70:00).
You Should Root For Her If: You realize that in sport someone’s dream dashed is another person dream’s fulfilled. Kilel’s win over Davila was a dream come true for Kilel but not Davila or a generation of American fans.

It Would Be A BIG Surprise

#10 Flomana Chepchichir Chumba- Kenya, 32 years old, 2:23:00 (Frankfurt 2013), 68:06, 32:13
Why She Could Win: Comes into her first world marathon major after a marathon pb in Frankfurt. Raced competitively at 13.1 with several other 2014 Boston contenders last month at 13.1 (see below).
What’s Not To Like: The fact that she’s 32 and never even run a major before. It would be a big upset to see her win.
Prep Races: 2 Half Marathons – 72:32 on January 12th ant 68:51 for third in Lisbon, 3 seconds behind Jelagat and 8 seconds ahead of Jepikurii.
You Should Root For Her If: You like seeing a 12 seed knock off a #5 in the NCAA tournament.

We Don’t See How She’s A Potential Winner

#11 Aleksandra Duliba - Belarus – 26 years old, 2:23:44 (Chicago 2013) NR, 74:43 half.
Why She Could Win: We don’t think she will but the first two marathons of her life last year went great (win in LA, 4th in Chicago). She’s run 2:23:44 and seems to be a true marathoner as her other pbs are 4:20 for 1,500, 16:13 for 5k, and 33:08 for 10k.
What’s Not To Like: No prep races.
Prep Races: None.
You Should Root For Her If: You want to laugh when a slew of people see a blond-haired woman crossing the finish line first and get excited thinking an American has won Boston at last, only to realize she’s from Belarus.

The Wild Card

WC Tatiana Petrova Arkhipova - Russia. 31 years old, 2:23:29 (2012 Olympics), Never run a half marathon, 9:09 steeple (2007 World Champ silver medallist)
Why She Could Win: She won the Olympic bronze medal in the marathon in her last race after working her way up through the pack. Since then, she’s had a baby and many women come back better after child birth.
What’s Not To Like: Hasn’t raced since 2012. No prep races.
Prep Races: None.
You Should Root For Her If: You believe in never giving up. She finished in the worst position possible at the 2008 Olympics – 4th in the women’s steeple. What did she do? Stuck with it and came back 4 years later and got the bronze in the marathon.
Did you know? She’s the world record holder in the unofficial women’s indoor steeple as she’s run 9:07.00 in that unofficial event.

Want More info?

Men’s Field Here: LRC Breaking Down The “Fastest Ever” Boston Marathon Men’s Field #1 Through 11 – Which Of These Men Will Likely Crush The Dreams Of American Fans Once Again?
*2014 Boston Marathon Media Guide