John Hancock Announces 2019 Boston Marathon International Elite Field: World Marathon Champ Geoffrey Kirui, NYC Champ Lelisa Desisa, Former World Champ Edna Kiplagat, Former London Champ Aselefech Mergia Join Defending Champions

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Press Release
January 10, 2018

BOSTON, MA—John Hancock and the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) today announced the elite international fields for the 123rd Boston Marathon on April 15. Complete field lists follow.

Nine Boston Marathon open champions and seven Boston Marathon wheelchair champions will challenge their respective fields to seek the coveted olive wreath. Combined, the field has won more than 200 international marathons and includes Olympic and Paralympic medalists, IAAF World Championships Marathon medalists and Abbott World Marathon Majors champions.

“John Hancock as principal sponsor of the Boston Marathon has recruited the world’s best runners to race on this historic course for over three decades,” said John Hancock Chief Marketing Officer Barbara Goose. “This year we welcome back 16 returning champions to challenge an accomplished international field of Olympians, World Champions and Abbott World Marathon Majors winners. We recognize the commitment and hard work it takes to compete at the highest level of the sport and look forward to another compelling race in Boston.”

“Each year, a collection of the world’s best runners descends on the start in Hopkinton with the goal of becoming Boston Marathon champion,” said B.A.A. CEO Tom Grilk. “John Hancock has once again assembled an Elite Team that will ensure a fiercely competitive race.

From decorated champions to Olympians, Paralympians and national record holders, we are excited to watch another chapter of Boston Marathon history unfold on Patriots’ Day.”

Men’s Field Summary

The field’s success in strategic and tactical championship style racing will prove critical as they run the world’s most historic marathon course from Hopkinton to Boston.

Leading a formidable field of 29 elite open men are: 2018 Boston winner Yuki Kawauchi of Japan; 2017 Boston and 2017 IAAF World Marathon Champion Geoffrey Kirui of Kenya; two-time Boston champion and 2018 TCS New York City Marathon champion Lelisa Desisa of

Ethiopia; 2016 Boston victor Lemi Berhanu of Ethiopia; and 2012 Boston champion Wesley Korir of Kenya.

Chasing the champions are 2:04 marathoners Lawrence Cherono of Kenya, a two-time Amsterdam, two-time Honolulu, Seville and Prague champion; Sisay Lemma of Ethiopia, winner of Carpi, Warsaw, Vienna, Frankfurt and Ljubljana; and Solomon Deksisa of Ethiopia, winner of Mumbai and Hamburg.

The Japanese pair of Hirohito Inoue and Hayato Sonada also join the team. Inoue won the 2018 Asian Games Marathon and Sonada was runner up in Beppu-Oita last year.

From Eritrea, 2015 World Championships Marathon gold medalist and 2016 TCS New York City champion Ghirmay Ghebreslassie will be in contention as will countryman Zersenay Tadese, a four-time Olympian, former world record holder in the half marathon and winner of six World Championships titles.

The previously announced American team includes third place finisher last year, Shadrack Biwott; Olympians Dathan Ritzenhein, Abdi Abdirahman, and Jared Ward; as well as Jeffery Eggleston, Elkanah Kibet, Timothy Ritchie, Scott Fauble, Aaron Braun and Brian Shrader.

Among those making their Boston debuts are several men who ran their personal best times in 2018: Rotterdam winner Kenneth Kipkemoi of Kenya; two-time Toronto champion Benson Kipruto of Kenya; and Beirut winner Mohamed Reda El Aaraby of Morocco.

Also joining the international field is British Olympian Scott Overall and 2:06 Kenyan marathoners Felix Kandie, the Athens and Prague champion; Festus Talam, a two-time Eindhoven winner; and Philemon Rono, a two-time Toronto champion.

In the men’s wheelchair division, previously announced defending champion Marcel Hug of Switzerland looks to earn his fifth wheelchair title and is part of a stellar international field featuring 10-time winner Ernst van Dyk of South Africa. In his 19 Boston appearances, van Dyk has placed on the podium all but two times, including ten wins, five runner-ups, and a pair of third place finishes.

Joining Hug and van Dyk are fellow Boston winners Masazumi Soejima and Hiroyuki Yamamoto (both from Japan) as well as former course record holder Joshua Cassidy (Canada). British stars David Weir and Johnboy Smith; Japan’s Hiroki Nishida, Ryota Yoshida, and Kota Hokinoue; Canada’s Tristan Smyth; and Ireland’s Patrick Monahan round out the international men’s field.

American men’s contenders Daniel Romanchuk, Joshua George, Aaron Pike, James Senbeta, Krige Schabort, and Brian Siemann are all entered as well. Romanchuk won the 2018 TCS New York City and Bank of America Chicago Marathons.

Women’s Field Summary

On the women’s elite team, John Hancock has assembled an accomplished field of 22 elite open women, 11 of whom have personal best times under 2:23:00.

Leading the way is 2018 winner Desiree Linden of the United States; two-time World Championships Marathon gold medalist, three-time Abbott World Marathon Majors series winner and 2017 Boston champion Edna Kiplagat of Kenya; 2015 Boston, Prague and Las Vegas winner Caroline Rotich of Kenya; and 2012 Boston, Hamburg, Toronto, Torino and Singapore winner Sharon Cherop of Kenya.

Challenging the Boston champions are 2:19 Ethiopian marathoners Aselefech Mergia, a London champion and three-time winner of Dubai; Mare Dibaba, the 2015 World Championships Marathon gold medalist, 2016 Olympic Marathon bronze medalist, Bank of

America Chicago Marathon champion, Beijing and two-time Xiamen winner; and Worknesh Degefa, a Dubai champion.

Last year’s second and third place finishers, Sarah Sellers of the United States and Krista DuChene of Canada return to improve their positions. They join Olympic and World Championships silver medalist in the 10,000m, Sally Kipyego of the United States; and previously announced U.S. elites: Jordan Hasay, third at Boston in 2017; Sara Hall, 2017 national champion; Lindsay Flanagan; Becky Wade; and Sarah Crouch.

Joining them will be a trio of Ethiopians: two-time Olympian Meskerem Assefa, winner of Rotterdam and Frankfurt; Olympian Belaynesh Oljira, 2015 World Championships 10,000m bronze medalist; and Marta Megra, a Toronto champion.

Rounding out the field and new to the Boston course are Olympian Betsy Saina of Kenya, a Paris champion; Olympian Eva Vrabcova of the Czech Republic, the bronze medalist in the 2018 European Marathon Championships; Olympian Alyson Dixon of Great Britain; and making her marathon debut is Mary Wacera of Kenya, the World Championships Half Marathon silver medalist in 2014 and bronze medalist in 2016.

In the women’s wheelchair division, Manuela Schar of Switzerland returns to the scene of her course record and world best performance. Schar timed a blistering 1:28:17 from Hopkinton to Boston in 2017, becoming the first woman ever to dip under the 1:30 barrier in Boston. She’ll be joined on the starting line by compatriot Sandra Graf; Madison De Rozario and Eliza Ault-Connell of Australia; Margriet Van Den Broek of the Netherlands; Diane Roy of Canada; and Aline de Rocha of Brazil. 

Five-time winner and defending champion Tatyana McFadden fronts the American charge, leading Susannah Scaroni, Amanda McGrory, Arielle Rausin, Katrina Gerhard, and Michelle Wheeler.

2019 Boston Marathon John Hancock Elite Men’s Open Field

NameCountryPBNameCountryPB
Lawrence CheronoKenya2:04:06 (Amsterdam, 2018)Yuki KawauchiJapan2:08:14 (Seoul, 2013)
Sisay LemmaEthiopia2:04:08 (Dubai, 2018)Zersenay TadeseEritrea2:08:46 (Berlin, 2018)
Lemi BerhanuEthiopia2:04:33 (Dubai, 2016)Abdi AbdirahmanUSA2:08:56 (Chicago, 2006)
Solomon DeksisaEthiopia2:04:40 (Amsterdam, 2018)Mohamed Reda Morocco2:09:16 (Chicago, 2018)
Lelisa DesisaEthiopia2:04:45 (Dubai, 2013)El Aaraby
Kenneth KipkemoiKenya2:05:44 (Rotterdam, 2018)Hayato SonodaJapan2:09:34 (Oita, 2018)
Felix KandieKenya2:06:03 (Seoul, 2017)Scott OverallGreat Britain2:10:55 (Berlin, 2011)
Geoffrey KiruiKenya2:06:27 (Amsterdam, 2016)Jeffrey EgglestonUSA2:10:52 (Gold Coast, 2014)
Festus TalamKenya2:06:13 (Eindhoven, 2017)Jared WardUSA2:11:30 (Rio de Janeiro, 2016)
Wesley KorirKenya2:06:13 (Chicago, 2012)Elkanah KibetUSA2:11:31 (Chicago, 2015)
Philemon RonoKenya2:06:52 (Toronto, 2017)Timothy RitchieUSA2:11:56 (Sacramento, 2017)
Hiroto InoueJapan2:06:54 (Tokyo, 2018)Shadrack BiwottUSA2:12:01 (New York City, 2016)
Benson KiprutoKenya2:07:11 (Seoul, 2018)Scott FaubleUSA2:12:28 (New York City, 2018)
Ghirmay GhebreslassieEritrea2:07:46 (London, 2016)Aaron BraunUSA2:12:54 (Houston, 2015)
Dathan RitzenheinUSA2:07:47 (Chicago, 2012)Brian ShraderUSA2:13:31 (Sacramento, 2018)

2019 Boston Marathon John Hancock Elite Women’s Open Field

NameCountryPB
Aselefech MergiaEthiopia2:19:31 (Dubai, 2012)
Edna KiplagatKenya2:19:50 (London, 2012)
Mare DibabaEthiopia2:19:52 (Dubai, 2012)
Worknesh DegefaEthiopia2:19:53 (Dubai, 2018)
Meskerem AssefaEthiopia2:20:36 (Frankfurt, 2018)
Jordan HasayUSA2:20:57 (Chicago, 2017)
Belaynesh OljiraEthiopia2:21:53 (Frankfurt, 2018)
Sharon CheropKenya2:22:28 (Berlin, 2013)
Desiree LindenUSA2:22:38 (Boston, 2011)
Marta MegraEthiopia2:22:35 (Toronto, 2018)
Betsy SainaKenya2:22:56 (Paris, 2018)
Caroline RotichKenya2:23:22 (Chicago, 2012)
Sara HallUSA2:26:20 (Ottawa, 2018)
Eva VrabcovaCzech Republic2:26:31 (Berlin, 2018) NR
Sally KipyegoUSA2:28:01 (New York City, 2016)
Krista DucheneCanada2:28:32 (Toronto, 2013)
Alyson DixonGreat Britain2:29:06 (London, 2017)
Lindsay FlanaganUSA2:29:25 (Frankfurt, 2018)
Becky WadeUSA2:30:41 (Sacramento, 2013)
Sarah CrouchUSA2:32:27 (Chicago, 2018)
Sarah SellersUSA2:36:37 (New York City, 2018)
Mary WaceraKenya66:29 (Houston, 2016)