No clear favorites for Boston Marathon in Olympic year

Fri Apr 15, 2016 1:35pm EDT
 
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By Svea Herbst-Bayliss

BOSTON (Reuters) - When Ethiopian Lelisa Desisa returns to the Boston Marathon starting line on Monday he will race for his third title but a clutch of fast competitors, including two other previous winners, make for an evenly matched field with no clear favorite.

Desisa has raced in only nine marathons and won three, including victories in Boston last year and in 2013 when a pair of homemade pressure-cooker bombs ripped through the crowd at the finish line, killing three people and injuring about 260.

Known as a tactical racer with an ability to sprint at the end, Desisa posted a personal best of 2:04:45 in Dubai in 2013 and won Boston in 2:09:17 last year.

"Everyone comes here to win but with God's help I will win again. My training has been better than it was last year," Desisa said on Friday.

Fellow Ethiopian Lemi Berhanu Hayle, who notched a personal best of 2:04:33 in Dubai in January, has a similarly strong record, having run just five marathons and won three.

Kenya's Geoffrey Mutai enters the race with the fastest personal time of 2:03:02, a course record he set with his 2011 Boston win. Kenyan Wesley Korir whose personal best is 2:06:13 is returning for a fourth time after having won in 2012.

Kenyan Stephen Chebogut, who won Eindhoven in 2:05:52 last year when he took two minutes off his personal best, is also considered a strong contender.

"On the men's and women's sides there are no clear favorites with evenly matched fields, which increases the chances that it will come down to the last mile or two," said Scott Douglas, senior content editor for Runner's World.   Continued...

 
Apr 20, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia holds up the trophy after winning the 119th Boston Marathon. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports