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2009 Boston Marathon: Robert Cheruiyot and Dire Tune Announce They Will Defend Titles
January 27, 2009

By David Monti
(c) 2009 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

Kenya's Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot and Ethiopia's Dire Tune will defend their Boston Marathon titles at the 113th edition of the race in April, John Hancock Financial announced today.

Cheruiyot, 30, the first-ever World Marathon Majors champion, is already the Boston record holder (2:07:14) and has won the race four times.  Homeless as child on Nairobi's streets, Cheruiyot's rise to the top of marathon running is one of the sport's most compelling stories.  He once smoked cigarettes to fight off hunger, but as an athlete his mighty lungs have propelled him to marathon victories in Boston (2003, '06-'08), Chicago (2006), and Milan (2002).

"I'd like to thank John Hancock for inviting me back to race in Boston again," said Cheruiyot through a prepared statement.  "Boston is one of my favorite races, and I am training as hard as I can to try to win for the fifth time if possible and run my best time."

Only Clarence DeMar with seven victories has won Boston more times than Cheruiyot, who is tied with Canadian Gérard Coté and American Bill Rodgers with four wins each.

Tune, 23, was an unlikely champion at Boston in 2008.  She had won the Chevron Houston Marathon in a course record and personal best 2:24:40 on January 13, then 99 days later found herself in a pitched battle against Russia's Alevtina Biktimirova in Boston's hilly second half.  Off of a relatively slow first half split (1:14:46), the pair dropped established stars Jelena Prokopcuka, Lidiya Grigoryeva and Rita Jeptoo.  The race came down to the final sprint on Boyleston Street, and Tune edged Biktimirova by just two seconds, 2:25:25 to 2:25:27, the closest women's finish in Boston history.  Tune recorded a sparkling 1:10:40 for the race's hilly second half.

"Since I was a young girl, I always dreamed to come and compete in the Boston Marathon," said Tune through a news release. "My dream came true not only to come to Boston, but to win.  Now I have an unbelievable determination to defend my title."

Cheruiyot and Tune will face credible threats from USA stars Ryan Hall (2:06:17 PB) and Kara Goucher (2:25:53 PB).  Hall ran London the last two years and will be running his fifth career marathon in Boston.  Goucher made an impressive debut at the ING New York City Marathon last November.  Finishing third, she became the first American woman to make the New York podium since Anne Marie Letko in 1994.

The 113th Boston Marathon is scheduled for Monday, April 20.  Last year's race had 25,283 entrants, 22,375 starters and 21,948 finishers, making it the third largest marathon in the United States behind New York and Chicago.




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