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2008 Boston Marathon Predictions
by: LetsRun.com
April 19, 2008

Predicting marathons is hard to begin with. Predicting marathons without going to the pre-race press conference is even harder. But we'll give out our best shot. Click here for Boston's press release on the field.

Men's Race: Cheruiyot Again
Handicapping the field on the men's side this year is difficult as there are only a few A teamers and then a bunch of B teamers.

In terms of A teamers. The lists starts with 3-time champion Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot who is looking for his 3rd straight Boston win and 4th overall.  We will say one thing. He's an overwhelming favorite. Based on credentials alone, he's the class of the field and there are few guys in the field that even have a chance of beating him.  

Additionally, it seems as if his training has been going well. He ran 60:50 at Lisbon last month. The time itself isn't all that fast as he's run as fast as 59:21 there in 2005, but it's important to realize that it's fast enough. The years that he ran really fast in Lisbon, he didn't win in Boston. Last year, he ran 60:38 in Lisbon and then took down Boston. Expect him to do the same this year.

Giving him more confidence should be the fact that he trains with London winner Martin Lel.

Who has the credentials to beat Cheruiyot?

If you are good enough to win Chicago, then you certainly are good enough to win Boston. Thus Patrick Ivuti, who won in the Chicago heat wave last fall has to be considered a big-time challenger. Small problem. He pulled out of Boston on Friday with malaria. So Ivuti, a former 5k runner, with PRs of 13:03, 27:05, 59:27, 2:07:46 is out.  He was in good shape as he ran a 57:20 for 20k on March 9th. He was the one guy we could see beating Cheruiyot and with him gone, it leaves us really searching for challengers.

Robert Cheruiyot and Crew

Photo by 

Last year's runner-up James Kwambai is a guy that can't be taken lightly. 2nd in Boston and 5th in New York, he is a consistent racer. We also know he's in pretty good shape as he equaled his half-marathon pr in February with a 60:22 clocking. But he's only got a 2:10:22 pb.

Stephen Kiogora, the 2006 New York City runner-up is a guy who likely could be top 10 but is unlikely to win. He was 3rd in Boston last year (2:14:47) and 7th in NYC (2:13:41). But his pr is only 2:09:21 and 2:09 guys are guys that win marathons like Las Vegas - not Boston. By the way, Kiogora did win Vegas in 2005.

There are ton of other guys in the field. Very hard to separate them. We sort of list them in order of being most likely to make some noise.
Gashaw Asfaw Ethiopian was 2006 Paris winner has one of the better PBs in the field (2:08:03). Ran 2:12 in Dubai in Feb. 
Abderrahime Bouramdane of Morocco -  The 2007 runner up in Seoul and Ottawa. Ran 2:08:20 last year.
James Mwangi Macharia - 23 year old is someone that could make some noise. Was second in Vienna in 2007 in his marathon debut last year (2:10:27). Former winner of Rock N Roll half in 60:42.
Timothy Cherigat
- 2004 Boston marathon champ is back after no races in 2007.  A REAL WILDCARD. Expect nothing or a ton out of him.
Yirefu Birhanu -Baltimore Marathon champs (2006) don't normally win Boston, but he is young (22) and did run 2:09:01 last November. Certainly a guy to look out for in our mind.  
Christopher Cheboiboch - A former runner-up in NYC  and Boston, he is likely a bit past his prime although he's been doing well of late in the minor leagues of marathons (the 2007 Las Vegas winner, runner-up at Rock n Roll last year in 2:10:58:0)
Shadrack Kiplagat - Ran 2:07:53 in Amsterdam last October but struggled in a half-marathon last month (65:27 in Paris on March 3rd versus the 60:35 he ran there last year). Otherwise we'd have him as one of our top picks.
William Kiplagat- The 35-year old uncle of Shadrack appears to be past his prime (2:06:50 in 1999). The 2003 Rotterdam champ was runner-up at Lake Biwa last year. He doesn't appear to be in shape though as he ran 66:51 in Lisbon this year.
Abdelhadi El Mouaziz - Morocco won his debut last year in San Sebastian in 2:12:45.

LetsRun.com Picks: 1) Cheruiyot. 2) Kwambai. A watered down field sees history repeat itself.  We refuse to pick farther down as it's too hard to figure out as the field is so weak.  Too bad Ryan Hall didn't run Boston as he could have coasted to 2nd if he could handle the hills.

And to show how we think the focus on time is overemphasized in marathons, guess what Cheruiyot's PB is. This guy was the first World Marathon Majors champ, winning Boston twice and NY.... Had time to think? Only 2:07:14.

Women's Race:(Athletes listed with PBs)

Boston 2007
Photo by Paul Keleher

Unlike the men's race, the women's race seems to have a ton of fairly evenly matched people. See notes on them below.

Lidiya Grigoryeva Russia 2:25:10 (Los Angeles 2006) CR - Defending champ has a very slow PB for a modern day Boston winner. Ran poorly in Puerto Rico 10k earlier this year. We don't see her winning as conditions should be pretty good.
Margaret Okayo Kenya 2:20:43 (Boston 2002) CR- The Boston course record holder isn't what she used to be. She ran 2:20:43 in Boston in 2002, but in her two half-marathons this year has only run 73:06 and 77:12.
Jelena Prokopcuka Latvia 2:22:56 (Osaka 2005) - 31-year old seems to be running pretty well and must be in decent form as she ran 70:01 in Paris on March 3rd. She was 2nd in Boston last year and third in New York  The two-time runner-up is looking for her first Boston win. She just might get it. She's won NY twice so she has shown the ability to perform on the big stage. Certainly look for a top 3 from her this year.
Askale Tafa Magarsa Ethiopia 2:23:23 (Dubai 2008)  - Has recovered nicely from her Dubai marathon in January as she ran 71:48 in Lisbon last month. Should be a factor here.
Rita Jeptoo Kenya 2:23:38 (Boston 2006) - 2006 Boston champ was 4th last year. We doubt she'll win but she'll be up there.
Robe Tola Guta Ethiopia 2:24:35 (Hamburg 2006) CR
Dire Tune Ethiopia 2:24:40 (Houston 2008) CR - Set PB in Houston in January and then ran well in World's Best 10k in Puerto Rico in February (31:46). If she's not over-raced, she could be a real factor.
Alevtina Biktimirova Russia 2:25:12 (Frankfurt 2005) CR
Bruna Genovese Italy 2:25:28 (Boston 2006)
Tetyana Kuzina-Hladyr Ukraine 2:25:44 (Rome 2006) NR
Magdaline Chemjor Kenya 2:28:16 (Amsterdam 2007)

LetsRun.com Picks: We're hesitant to pick people (Magarsa) who are running their 2nd marathons of the year (Berhane Adere bombed in London after running Dubai), but clearly on the women's side, it can be done as Gete Wami showed  in NY (2nd after running Berlin a month earlier) last fall. Nonetheless, it's time for Prokupcuka to come out on top in Boston.

 1) Prokopcuka 2) Magarsa 3) Tune 4) Jeptoo

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