John Hancock Financial Announces 2016 Boston Marathon International Elite Field

38 Elite Athletes From 12 Countries Invited For 120th Running on April 18

Press Release

BOSTON, MA, January 13, 2016—In its 31st year as principal sponsor of the Boston Marathon, John Hancock Financial today announced the elite field for the 120th running of the Boston Marathon on April 18. A complete field list follows.

Article continues below player
Like this article? Subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on social media
The latest running news, sent to your inbox weekly or when urgent news breaks.

You have been subscribed.

Boston Marathon champions Lelisa Desisa, Caroline Rotich, Geoffrey Mutai and Wesley Korir return to compete in the world’s most historic marathon, and will be strongly challenged by an exceptional men’s and women’s international field. Combined, the team has won 16 Abbott World Marathon Majors, Olympic and IAAF World Championships medals, and 89 global marathons.

The chase for the 2016 men’s title will be dynamic with six men in the field holding personal bests under 2:05, and 10 with lifetime bests under 2:06.

Desisa will go for a third Boston title in April

Desisa will go for a third Boston title in April

Two-time Boston Marathon champion Lelisa Desisa, of Ethiopia, headlines the group seeking his third title. Desisa ran four marathons last year, finishing second in Dubai, winning Boston, placing seventh at the World Championships, and third in New York City. Joining Desisa with course experience are champions Geoffrey Mutai and Wesley Korir, both of Kenya. Mutai holds two New York City titles, a Berlin crown, and en route to his 2011 Boston win, recorded a then-World Best time of 2:03:02. Korir has run Boston three times and is one of the most consistent marathoners in the world, having won Boston in 2012 and the Los Angeles Marathon twice.


Challenging the champions for the olive wreath are Yemane Adhane Tsegay, Wilson Chebet, and Michael Kipyego. Tsegay and Chebet finished second and third, respectively, in Boston last year. Tsegay has won eight global marathons, and claimed the silver medal at the 2015 IAAF World Championships Marathon. Chebet is a three-time winner in Amsterdam and a winner in Rotterdam. Kipyego brings Abbott World Marathon Majors experience as a past champion of the Tokyo Marathon.

Sub-2:05 men making their Boston debuts are Sammy Kitwara, who was last year’s runner-up in Chicago and is also a former Rotterdam winner; Tsegaye Mekonnen, who ran to a 2:04:32 debut to earn the 2014 Dubai win; and Vienna and Amsterdam champion Getu Feleke. Feleke’s wife, Olympic gold medalist Tiki Gelana, will also run Boston this year.

Another fast trio of Hayle Lemi Berhanu, Stephen Chebogut and Deribe Robi will also contend for the win. Berhanu is the 2015 Dubai and Warsaw champion, and also won Zurich in 2014. Chebogut is has won marathons in Eindhoven, Reims and Istanbul, while Robi was runner-up in Eindhoven last year and won Marrakesh in 2014. All three men ran their personal best marathon times in 2015.

U.S. elite men include Ian Burrell, who finished as the first American at the World Championships Marathon this past summer, and Girma Mecheso, who won the 2014 U.S. 20K Championships. Mecheso will be making his marathon debut.

San Diego and San Jose Half Marathon champion Jordan Chipangama from Zambia is also in the field. Chipangama lives and trains in the United States.

Additional international elites include 2011 Pan American gold medalist Solonei Da Silva from Brazil, Dutch 5,000m champion Abdi Nageeye, two-time Olympian Cutbert Nyasango from Zimbabwe, Mumbai champion Jackson Kiprop from Uganda, 2015 Shanghai champion Paul Lonyangata from Kenya, and young talent Abdelmajid El Hissouf from Morocco.

On the women’s side, John Hancock has assembled a fast field with 10 women holding personal best times under 2:23:23. Tiki Gelana, the 2012 Olympic Marathon gold medalist, leads the field as she makes her Boston debut. Gelana, also a past champion of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, is seeking a place on the 2016 Ethiopian Olympic team with a strong Boston performance.

Also looking for a podium finish are Buzunesh Deba, Tirfe Tsegaye, Mamitu Daska and Atsede Bayisa. Deba finished second in Boston in 2014 and third last year, and is the champion of eight marathons held in the United States. Tsegaye has won marathons in Berlin, Tokyo, Paris and Dubai, while Daska has had success on the roads of Boston, claiming both the B.A.A. 10K and B.A.A. Half Marathon. She has also won marathons in Dubai, Houston and Frankfurt. Bayisa has won Chicago and Paris twice, as well as Saitama.

Bringing Boston experience to the race are 2015 champion Caroline Rotich, who has run Boston three times; three-time Olympian Jelena Prokopcuka, who is a two-time New York City winner and two-time Boston runner up; and Olympian Joyce Chepkirui, who won both Amsterdam and Honolulu last year, and finished tenth in Boston.

Neely Spence Gracey in advance of the 2015 New Balance Falmouth Road Race (photo by Chris Lotsbom for Race Results Weekly)

Neely Spence Gracey in advance of the 2015 New Balance Falmouth Road Race (photo by Chris Lotsbom for Race Results Weekly)

American Neely Spence Gracey will make her highly anticipated marathon debut in Boston. She comes to the race with a 69:59 half marathon personal best from her runner-up finish in Philadelphia last year. Sarah Crouch (formerly Sarah Porter) joins Spence Gracey as part of the American contingent. Crouch finished sixth in Chicago in 2014 and 12th last year. She also won the Tallahassee Marathon in 2015 (MB: Neely Spence Gracey running Boston – good idea?) . From China, Lamei Sun will make her Boston debut. Sun won the Dongying Marathon and was runner-up in Beijing in 2012.

Kenyans Valentine Kipketer, Flomena Cheyech Daniel, and 22-year-old young talent Purity Cherotich Rionoripo will seek the title as well. Kipketer is a past champion of Amsterdam and Mumbai, while Daniel has won Paris, Vienna, Toronto and the Commonwealth Games gold medal in 2014. Rionoripo won the 2015 Lisbon Marathon and brings 68:29 half marathon speed to the race.

Ethiopians Tadelech Bekele, Fatuma Sado, and Fate Tola, who lives and trains in Germany, have impressive credentials as well. Bekele ran a 2:22:51 in Dubai in 2015; Sado is past winner of Los Angeles, Xiamen, Warsaw, Hamburg and Beijing; and Tola has won Vienna twice.

“We welcome back our past champions and an exceptional elite field from around the world for the 120th running of the Boston Marathon,” said Rob Friedman, head of Sponsorship and Event Marketing at John Hancock. “During our sponsorship we have hosted more than 700 elite athletes from 46 countries, and each year these talented athletes run a strategic and exciting race for millions of fans around the globe. We wish this year’s team all the best in their final Boston Marathon preparations and look forward to cheering for them on Marathon Monday.”

“We already look forward to welcoming these top international marathoners to Boston in April,” said Tom Grilk, B.A.A. Executive Director. “Our team works year-round to play host and set a stage worthy of the caliber of professional athletes that will run here along with the rest of the splendid athletes in our field. We wish the John Hancock Elite Athlete Team members good luck with their training with fewer than 100 days to go until our 120th race.”

The 2016 Boston Marathon marks the 31st year of John Hancock’s landmark sponsorship of the legendary race. For additional information about the elite athlete program and sponsorship, please visit or follow us @jhboston26 on Twitter. A complete field list follows.

Discuss this development on the forum: MB: 2016 Boston Marathon field announced

MEN Country Personal Best
Geoffrey Mutai Kenya 2:03:02 (Boston, 2011)
Sammy Kitwara Kenya 2:04:28 (Chicago, 2014)
Tsegaye Mekonnen Ethiopia 2:04:32 (Dubai, 2014)
Lelisa  Desisa Ethiopia 2:04:45 (Dubai, 2013)
Yemane Adhane Tsegay Ethiopia 2:04:48 (Rotterdam, 2012)
Getu Feleke Ethiopia 2:04:50 (Rotterdam, 2012)
Wilson Chebet Kenya 2:05:27 (Rotterdam, 2011)
Hayle Lemi Berhanu Ethiopia 2:05:28 (Dubai, 2015)
Stephen Chebogut Kenya 2:05:52 (Eindhoven, 2015)
Deribe Robi Ethiopia 2:05:58 (Eindhoven, 2015)
Wesley Korir Kenya 2:06:13 (Chicago, 2012)
Michael Kipyego Kenya 2:06:48 (Eindhoven, 2011)
Paul Lonyangata Kenya 2:07:14 (Shanghai, 2015)
Jackson Kiprop Uganda 2:09:32 (Mumbai, 2013)
Cuthbert Nyasango Zimbabwe 2:09:52 (Prague, 2014)
Abdi Nageeye Netherlands 2:10:24 (Amsterdam, 2015)
Abdelmajid El Hissouf Morocco 2:10:35 (Seoul, 2015)
Solonei Da Silva Brazil 2:11:32 (Padova, 2011)
Jordan Chipangama Zambia 2:11:35 (Duluth, 2015)
Ian Burrell USA 2:13:26 (Houston, 2014)
Girma Mecheso USA Debut; HM 1:02:16 (Houston, 2015)
WOMEN Country Personal Best Time
Tiki Gelana Ethiopia 2:18:58 (Rotterdam, 2012)
Buzunesh Deba Ethiopia 2:19:59 (Boston, 2014)
Tirfi Tsegaye Ethiopia 2:20:18 (Berlin, 2014)
Mamitu Daska Ethiopia 2:21:59 (Frankfurt, 2011)
Atsede Bayisa Ethiopia 2:22:03 (Chicago, 2012)
Flomena Cheyech Daniel Kenya 2:22:44 (Paris, 2014)
Tadelech Bekele Ethiopia 2:22:51 (Dubai, 2015)
Jelena Prokopcuka Latvia 2:22:56 (Osaka, 2005)
Valentine Kipketer Kenya 2:23:02 (Amsterdam, 2013)
Caroline Rotich Kenya 2:23:22 (Chicago, 2012)
Joyce Chepkirui Kenya 2:24:11 (Amsterdam, 2015)
Fatuma Sado Ethiopia 2:24:16 (Toronto, 2015)
Purity Cherotich Rionoripo Kenya 2:25:09 (Lisbon, 2015)
Fate Tola Ethiopia/Germany 2:25:14 (Berlin, 2012)
Lamei Sun China 2:27:55 (Beijing, 2012)
Sarah Crouch USA 2:32:44 (Chicago, 2014)
Neely Spence Gracey USA Debut; HM 69:59 (Philadelphia, 2015)

About John Hancock Financial and Manulife

John Hancock Financial is a division of Manulife, a leading Canada-based financial services group with principal operations in Asia, Canada and the United States. Operating as Manulife in Canada and Asia, and primarily as John Hancock in the United States, our group of companies offers clients a diverse range of financial protection products and wealth management services through its extensive network of employees, agents and distribution partners. Assets under management and administration by Manulife and its subsidiaries were C$888 billion (US$663 billion) as at September 30, 2015. Manulife Financial Corporation trades as ‘MFC’ on the TSX, NYSE and PSE, and under ‘945’ on the SEHK. Manulife can be found on the Internet at

The John Hancock unit, through its insurance companies, comprises one of the largest life insurers in the United States. John Hancock offers and administers a broad range of financial products, including life insurance, annuities, investments,  401(k) plans, long-term care insurance, college savings, and other forms of business insurance. Additional information about John Hancock may be found at


Filed Under:
Like this article? Subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on social media

The latest running news, sent to your inbox weekly or when urgent news breaks.

You have been subscribed.