|JOHN HANCOCK FINANCIAL ANNOUNCES TOP
CONTENDERS FOR 2009 BOSTON MARATHON
2008 Chicago Winners,
Olympians, and Additional Talent Join the Elite Team to Challenge Defending
BOSTON, MA, February 19, 2009— John Hancock
Financial today announced that the top contenders for the Boston Marathon this
year include an elite group of Olympians, top Americans and international
marathon winners. These athletes will challenge four-time winner Robert Kipkoech
Cheruiyot of Kenya and defending women’s champion Dire Tune of Ethiopia at the
113th running of the race on April 20.
The top male contenders include 2008
Chicago champion Evans Cheruiyot of Kenya, Olympian and 2009 Houston winner
Deriba Merga of Ethiopia, and top American and Olympian Ryan Hall.
Evans Cheruiyot ran to a 2:06:25
commanding lead in an unseasonably hot Chicago this past fall and in 2007
the Milan City Marathon in his debut.
Merga shattered the 20-year-old Houston
course record by more than two minutes in January, and he placed fourth in the
Beijing Olympic Marathon.
Hall’s efforts last year included a
2:06:17 run in London and a tenth place in the Olympic Marathon. He is the
American half-marathoner record holder and currently the fastest American
Added to John Hancock’s elite team and
chasing the trio are Daniel Rono of Kenya, with seven top-three finishes in
international marathons, including third in New York City last year; Robert
Kiprono (Cheruiyot) of Kenya, who debuted last year with a 2:07:21 course record
in Frankfurt and Gashaw Asfaw of Ethiopia, who was first in Shanghai, seventh at
the Olympic Marathon and fourth in Boston in 2008.
American Olympian Brian Sell will also
challenge, as will American Jason Lehmkuhle. Sell has experience in Boston,
having finished fourth in 2006, and Lehmkuhle brings potential with a fifth at
the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.
Additional men returning with experience
are 2004 Boston champion Timothy Cherigat and 2007 third place finisher Stephen
Kiogora, both of Kenya. Newcomers on the course include 2008 JoongAng Seoul
Marathon winner Solomon Molla of Ethiopia, Lee Troop of Australia, and debut
marathoner Abebe Dinkesa of Ethiopia.
In the women’s race, defending champion
Dire Tune of Ethiopia will face 2008 Chicago and 2007 Boston champion Lidiya
Grigoryeva of Russia, as well as her teammates Galina Bogolomova, the Russian
national record holder (2:20:47), and Olympic steeplechaser and World
Championships silver medalist Tatyana Petrova.
Also in contention for the win are 2009
Dubai winner Bezunesh Bekele of Ethiopia, seasoned marathoner and Olympian
Salina Kosgei of Kenya, and leading American Kara Goucher. In New York City this
past fall, Goucher ran the fastest American debut of all time recording a
2:25:53 over the challenging course. She also competed in both the 5,000 and
10,000 meters at the Beijing Olympic Games, finishing ninth and tenth
Chasing these women are Helena Kirop of
Kenya, third in Berlin the past two years; Atsede Habtamu of Ethiopia, runner up
in her debut in Dubai this year; Alice Timbilili of Kenya and American and
two-time Olympian Elva Dryer.
John Hancock, now in its 24th
year as the major sponsor of the Boston Marathon, will announce its complete
international elite team in March.