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?

April 16, 2014

Today 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 men’s race on the right below.

Considering how loaded last weekend’s 2014 London Marathon was – with the fastest man in history Geoffrey Mutai, the world record holder Wilson Kipsang, world junior record holder Tsegaye Mekonnen, the defending champ Tsegaye Kebede, the Olympic and world champ Stephen Kiprotich – you might be asking yourself, ‘Who could possibly be left for Boston?’

MEN Personal Best Time Country
Dennis Kimetto 2:03:45 (Chicago 2013) CR Kenya
Lelisa Desisa 2:04:45 (Dubai, 2013) Ethiopia
Gebre Gebremariam 2:04:53 (Boston, 2011) Ethiopia
Markos Geneti 2:04:54 (Dubai, 2012) Ethiopia
Ryan Hall 2:04:58 (Boston, 2011) USA
Wilson Chebet 2:05:27 (Rotterdam, 2011) Kenya
Tilahun Regassa 2:05:27 (Chicago, 2012) Ethiopia
Frankline Chepkwony 2:06:11 (Eindhoven, 2012) Kenya
Micah Kogo 2:06:56 (Chicago, 2013) Kenya
Adil Annani 2:07:43 (London, 2012) Morocco
Paul Lonyangata 2:07:44 (Xiamen, 2013) Kenya
Joel Kimurer 2:07:48 (Gongju, 2013) Kenya
Lusapho April 2:08:32 (Hannover, 2013) CR South Africa
Abdi Abdirahman 2:08:56 (Chicago, 2006) USA
Mebrahtom Keflezighi 2:09:08 (Houston, 2012) USA
Brett Gotcher 2:10:36 (Houston, 2010) USA
Mathew Bowen 2:10:57 (Rennes, 2013) Kenya
Jason Hartmann 2:11:06 (Chicago 2010) USA
Nicholas Arciniaga 2:11:30 (Houston, 2011) USA
Vitaliy Shafar 2:11:52 (Frankfurt, 2013) Ukraine
Jeffrey Eggleston 2:12:03 (Chicago, 2012) USA

Answer: ‘A lot of people.’

John Hancock says they have assembled “the fastest field ever” for Boston and we don’t doubt them. The race includes seven men who have run under 2:05:30, including four of the 13 men who broke 2:06:00 last year. The 2014 Boston men’s field is led by the Track and Field News #1 and #2 ranked marathoners in the world for 2013, defending champion Lelisa Desisa and Dennis Kimetto, who set the course records in Chicago (2:03:45) and Tokyo (2:06:50 since broken) last year.

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Considering 31 Boston Marathons have been run since American Greg Meyer last won for the USA, we have decided to kick off our pre-race coverage by profiling only the elite foreign men. 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.’

Below, we give you insight on the 11 foreigners in the field who have broken 2:08 in their careers.

We’ve broken them down into a few groups – “One of these two guys should win”, “If the top two falter, watch out for these four,” “He’s won before”, “Someone has to win” and “Someone call WADA if he wins”.

One Of These Guys Should Win – The Two Guys Who Were Ranked #1 and #2 In The World Last Year For A Reason

#1 Lelisa Desisa – Ethiopia, 24 years old, 2:04:45 pb (Dubai 2013), 59:30 and 27:11
Why He’s One Of The Favorites: The defending champion has run 3 marathons and all of them have been great. A 2:04:45 win in Dubai in January, a win in Boston in April (2:10:22) and a silver medal at the Moscow World Championships (2:10:22).
What’s Not To Like: Nothing.
Prep Races: Not much to write home about. Just kidding. He won the world’s richest half-marathon on Valentines Day – the RAK Half – in 59:36.
You Should Root For Him If: You like favorites and you like guys at least beginning their careers on the track.
Want more info? We had a lot of info on Desisa, who dominated the US road races in 2010 and 11, when he made his marathon Debut in Dubai. You can read it here. A little more here: MB: What can anyone tell me about Lelisa Desisa).

Dennis Kimetto did a lot of this last year Dennis Kimetto did a lot of this last year

#2 Dennis Kimetto – Kenya, 30 years old, 2:03:45 pb (Chicago 2013). 59:14 half.
Why He’s One Of The Favorites
: Has run 3 marathons and all of them have been great. A 2:04:16 second place showing in Berlin in 2012, a 2:06:50 win and course record in Tokyo and a 2:03:45 win and course record in Chicago, where he possibly could have broken the world record had he realized how fast he was running. And remember his lone loss in Berlin was a race where many believe he lost on purpose so his training partner Geoffrey Mutai would pick up a $500,000 bonus.
What’s Not To Like: Only ran 64:35 in a prep race in the Netherlands on March 9th. If it wasn’t for that, he’d definitely be our #1 pick. As a result, he’s #2.
Prep Races: See above. 64:35 is pretty awful.
You Should Root For Him If: You dream of finding a million dollar lottery ticket on the side of the street. Confused, read what we have below.
Want more info? Sorry if you’ve seen this before, but we’ll repeat some info we had on Kimetto last year.

Below you will see the personal bests of 2013 Tokyo and 2013 Chicago Marathon winner Dennis Kimetto in the key formative years of age 18-26 before he started racing the 10,000 (28:30 at altitude) and half-marathon (61:30 at altitude) in 2011 at age 27 in anticipation of his 2012 marathon debut at age 28.

Don’t see anything?

Don’t worry, there is nothing wrong with your computer screen.

We were trying to make a point. As Kimetto says, he wasn’t a runner until age 26. Prior to that, he was busy farming as he told RunBlogRun, “Before 2010 I was concentrating on farming and had never run before.”

If The Top Two Falter, Watch Out For These Four

Tilahun Regassa leading Meb and the entire field at 2009 Falmouth Tilahun Regassa leading Meb and the entire field at 2009 Falmouth

#3 Tilahun Regassa – Ethiopia – 24 years old, 2:05:27 pb (Chicago 2012), 59:19 half, 27:18, 13:12
Why He’s One Of The Favorites
: Has run 2 marathons and both of them have been great. A 2:05:27 third place showing in Chicago in 2012 and a 2:05:38 win in Rotterdam last spring. The fact that he didn’t go back to Rotterdam to defend his crown shows us he wants to be a player at a World Marathon Major.
What’s Not To Like: Was supposed to run Chicago last year, but never made it to the start line. Not sure why. If you know, email us.
Prep Races: None.
You Should Root For Him If: You have a heart. Regassa’s life story is awe-inspiring. It’s a shame that 60 Minutes didn’t do two features. One on American Shalane Flanagan and how much a victory in Boston would mean to her/Boston and one on Regassa and how much running means to him. After his father died at age 15, Regassa lived on the streets of Ethiopia for 3 years, working at a factory and getting food given to him at a hotel. Because of his literal hunger, he’s developed stomach problems which have hampered him athletically at times. Touched? Read more about Regassa from the Denver Post‘s John Henderson in 2009More: MB: Tilahun Regassa

#4 Wilson Chebet Kenya – 28 years old – 2:05:27 pb (Rotterdam 2011) – 59:15.
Why He Could Win: A very accomplished marathoner who is very consistent. Has run five marathons at 2:06:12 or faster since 2010.

2:06:12 2nd Amsterdam
2:05:27 1st Rotterdam
2:05:53 1st Amsterdam
2:14:56 5th Boston
2:05:41 1st Amsterdam
DNF Rotterdam
2:05:36 1st Amsterdam

What’s Not To Like: The one time he didn’t run a pancake flat course in the Netherlands was when he ran Boston in 2012 and he was only 5th. To tell you the truth, we don’t think you can read too much into that as it was hot as hell that day.
Prep Race: 10th at World’s Best 10k in February. That’s a bit lower than where he’s finished in the past. He was 4th last year and 7th in 2011.
You Should Root For Him If: You are Dutch. Chebet clearly likes your country.

Will Micah Kogo be smiling on Monday? Will Micah Kogo be smiling on Monday?

#5 Micah Kogo – Kenya – 27-years old – 2:06:56 pb (Chicago 2013), 59:07, 26:35 10,000.
Why He Could Win
: The 2008 Olympic bronze medalist at 10,000 was a surprising second in his marathon debut in Boston last year. He has great track and road credentials and was in great shape 2 months ago when he ran 59:49 at the RAK Half.
What’s Not To Like: On the track, he rarely won.
Prep Races: 59:49 (6th place) at RAK Half on Valentine’s Day.
You Should Root For Him If: You have always been just barely on the outside looking in and are looking to finally get on top. Kogo has long been very, very good, but never the #1 guy. He’s always playing second fiddle to someone. Think Scottie Pippen to Michael Jordan.

#6 Markos Geneti – Ethiopia – 29-years old – 2:04:54 pb (Dubai 2012), 62:01, 13:00
Why He Could Win: The 2011 LA Marathon winner (2:06:35) has twice run under 2:05:15 in his career in Dubai.
What’s Not To Like: He’s excelled on flat courses, but was 6th in Boston last year in his Boston debut.
Prep Races: None – but ran 2:05:13 for second place in Dubai in January.
You Should Root For Him If: You believe perseverance pays off. Geneti won the first marathon he ever ran (2011 LA) but hasn’t won since.

He’s Won One Before

#7 Gebre Gebremariam – Ethiopia – 29-years old – 2:04:53 pb (Boston 2011 wind-aided), 60:25, 26:52
Why He Could Win
: Has won some big races before, namely the 2009 World XC Championships and the 2010 New York City marathon in his debut.

Gebre Gebremariam won New York in 2010 Gebre Gebremariam won New York in 2010

What’s Not To Like: After being the surprise winner in New York in 2010, he’s had the following finishes in his marathons: 3rd Boston 2011 (2:04:53), DNF Worlds 2011, 4th NY 2011 (2:08:00), 14th Boston 2012 (2:22:56), 3rd Boston 2013 (2:10:28)).
Prep Races: None and that concerns us. Before all of his best marathons previously, he showed good fitness in a half marathon.
You Should Root For Him If: You like the vice-president, not the president. This “Geb” has long been overshadowed by the other “Geb” – Haile Gebrselassie. Additionally, he’s married to 2003 world champion Werknesh Kidane but their family is at best the second family in Ethiopian distance running as the first family is Tirunesh Dibaba and Sileshi Sihine, whose wedding was broadcast live on tv.

Someone Has To Win

#8 Paul Lonyangata – Kenya – 21-years old – 2:07:44 pb (Xiamen 2013), 59:53.
Why He Could Win
: The 2010 world junior bronze medalist at 10,000 is still just 21. He ran 2:07:44 in his debut and got second last year in China before winning his second marathon in Portugal (2:09:46)
What’s Not To Like: Lots of others in the field with faster pbs and faster prep races.
Prep Races: 59:54 (8th place) at RAK Half on Valentine’s Day.
You Should Root For Him If: You root for youth as he’s the baby in this field.

#9 Franklin Chepkwony – Kenya – 30-years old – 2:06:11 pb (Eindhoven 2012), 60:11
Why He Could Win: Has broken 2:07:00 twice, has finished first or second in four of his 5 career marathons.
What’s Not To Like: This is his first World Marathon Major (WMM). 2:06 was an incredible time 15+ years ago. History fact: From 1988 to 1998 the world record was 2:06:50.
Prep Races: 61:39 second place half in Spain on January 19th. The winner of that race, 21-year old, Abraham Cheroben ran 59:14 in Berlin 3 weeks ago.
You Should Root For Him If: You like the understudy. He’s a training partner of Dennis Kimetto.

#10 Joel Kimurer – Kenya – 26 years old – 2:07:48 pb (Kwangju KOR), 59:36 half.
Why He Theoretically Could Win: Has one marathon finish in each of the last three years and has improved in all of them, 2:15:48, 2:08:18, 2:07:48.
Why He’s Not Winning:
He only has a 2:07:48 pb.
Prep Races: 62:27 in Spain on January 19th – nearly a minute behind Chepkowny.
You Should Root For Him If: You like Italians. He raced mostly in Italy from 2007 to 2010 and is coached by Italian Gabriela Rosa.

Someone Call WADA If He Wins

#11 Adil Annani – Morocco – 33 years old – 2:07:43 pb (London 2012), 61:31 half.
Why He Could Win: He’s not.
Why He’s Not Winning:
He only has a 2:07:43 pb despite having run 7 marathons and ran just 63:48 for 13.1 on March 16th.

Want to know more about the elites in this year’s race?  Ray Fontaine has written some pretty funny bios of the leading Boston runners on Or you can check out the official 2014 Boston media guide here.

Note: Eric Ndiema has withdrawn from the race due to difficulties obtaining the necessary visa paperwork.

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