Organisers of the Boston Marathon have announced the elite field for the 118th edition of theÂ IAAF Gold Label Road RaceÂ on 21 April.
Reigning champions Lelisa Desisa and Rita Jeptoo will return to defend their titles, but will be challenged by Bostonâ€™s fastest ever field, comprising 46 athletes from 13 countries.
It includes Olympic medallists, previous winners of Chicago, New York City, Tokyo and Boston, and champions of more than 80 global marathons.
Seven men in the field have run faster than 2:05:30, including Desisa, who took the silver medal in the marathon at the 2013 IAAF World Championships.
Dennis Kimetto may be Desisaâ€™s strongest challenger. The 29-year-old Kenyan holds the 25km world record and has a marathon best of 2:03:45 from his 2013 Chicago victory when he broke the course record.
Joining the duo is Moses Mosop, who ran the second-fastest time ever run on Bostonâ€™s slightly downhill point-to-point course with his 2:03:06 second-place finish in 2011. Mosop then went on to win the Chicago Marathon later that year.
Ethiopians Gebre Gebremariam and Markos Geneti have also run sub-2:05 and have experience on the course. Gebremariam has finished third at Boston twice and won in New York City in 2010. Geneti won in Los Angeles and last year finished sixth in Boston.
Micah Kogo, last yearâ€™s runner up and former 10km world-record-holder, returns for redemption after missing the 2013 crown by five seconds.
Other strong challengers will be three-time Amsterdam winner and Rotterdam champion Wilson Chebet and young talent Tilahun Regassa, who has also won Rotterdam.
They are joined by Frankline Chepkwony, who is a past champion in Seoul and Zurich, world junior record-holder Eric Ndiema, and Hamburg course record-holder Shami Dawud.
USAâ€™s 2004 Olympic silver medallist Meb Keflezighi and three-time Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein will work together with Jason Hartmann, Brett Gotcher, Nick Arciniaga and Jeffrey Eggleston to bring back a title for the US.
Joining them to round out the deep menâ€™s field are April Lusapho, third-place finisher in New York City last year, and Adil Anani, who has won in Casablanca and Beppu-Oita.
Also in contention are Australian Olympian Jeffrey Hunt, Warsaw winner Vitaliy Shafar, Lisbon champion Paul Lonyangata, and Gongju winner Joel Kimurer.
On the womenâ€™s side, the historic win will be difficult to secure with nine women owning personal best times faster than 2:23.
Headliners include the top four finishers from last yearâ€™s race: Rita Jeptoo, Meseret Hailu, Sharon Cherop and Shalane Flanagan.
After winning Boston for the second time, Jeptoo went on to win in Chicago in 2:19:57 and was the only woman in the world last year to break 2:20.
World half marathon champion Hailu beat 2012 Boston champion Cherop by three seconds to secure second place in Boston last year, having set a course record of 2:21:09 in Amsterdam in 2012.
Cherop returns for her fourth Boston Marathon with an improved personal best of 2:22:38, earned with her runner-up finish in Berlin 2013.
Three-time Olympian Flanagan was in the hunt until the final stretch and finished only seven seconds outside of a podium spot.
Challenging these women will be 2011 Boston Marathon champion Caroline Kilel and 2011 runner-up Desiree Davila-Linden. Both women are back in top form with Kilel setting a PB of 2:22:34 in Frankfurt and Davila-Linden determined to beat her time of 2:22:38, the fastest performance ever by a US woman in Boston.
Ready to mix things up are Mare Dibaba, who has a personal best of 2:19:52 and recently won in Xiamen; Jemima Sumgong, who was runner up in Chicago last year and in Boston in 2012; Eunice Kirwa, who has a 2:21:41 best, and Seoul champion Flomena Chepchichir.
Two-time New York City runner-up Buzunesh Deba is in the field with eight US marathon wins to her name. Joining Deba are Olympic Marathon bronze medallist Tatiana Petrova Arkhipova, who returns after maternity leave, and Belarusian record-holder Aliaksandra Duliba.
Also joining the field are Yeshi Esayias, who has won or placed runner-up in nine marathons; Rotterdam champion Philes Ongori, and world 10,000m bronze medallist Belaynesh Oljira, who is making her transition to the roads.
Additional US women in the field are Amy Hastings, Serena Burla and Adriana Nelson. Each brings strong credentials to the race as do Canadian national-record-holder Lanni Marchant, former Tokyo champion Noriko Higuchi, Colombiaâ€™s Yolanda Caballero, and Adriana Aparecida da Silva from Brazil.
â€œThe essence of the Boston Marathon has been competition, and the elite athletes bring together a group of competitors who are driven to win,â€ said Tom Grilk, BAA executive director. â€œIn addition to running some of the fastest marathons ever, they represent a group of proven winners who have seized victory across the World Marathon Majors and other leading events, as well as capturing Olympic and World Championship medals. They offer every promise of enriching yet further the competitive lore of Boston.â€
Organisers for the IAAF
Elite field (with PBs)
Moses Mosop (KEN) 2:03:06
Dennis Kimetto (KEN) 2:03:45
Lelisa Desisa (ETH) 2:04:45
Gebregziabher Gebremariam (ETH) 2:04:53
Markos Geneti (ETH) 2:04:54
Wilson Chebet (KEN) 2:05:27
Tilahun Regassa (ETH) 2:05:27
Shami Dawud (ETH) 2:05:42
Eric Ndiema (KEN) 2:06:07
Frankline Chepkwony (KEN) 2:06:11
Micah Kogo (KEN) 2:06:56
Adil Annani (MAR) 2:07:43
Paul Lonyangata (KEN) 2:07:44
Dathan Ritzenhein (USA) 2:07:47
Joel Kimurer (KEN) 2:07:48
Lusapho April (RSA) 2:08:32
Mebrahtom Keflezighi (USA) 2:09:08
Brett Gotcher (USA) 2:10:36
Jeffrey Hunt (AUS) 2:11:00
Jason Hartmann (USA) 2:11:06
Nicholas Arciniaga (USA) 2:11:30
Vitaliy Shafar (UKR) 2:11:52
Jeffrey Eggleston (USA) 2:12:03
Mare Dibaba (ETH) 2:19:52
Rita Jeptoo (KEN) 2:19:57
Jemima Jelagat Sumgong (KEN) 2:20:48
Meseret Hailu (ETH) 2:21:09
Eunice Kirwa (KEN) 2:21:41
Sharon Cherop (KEN) 2:22:28
Caroline Kilel (KEN) 2:22:34
Desiree Davila-Linden (USA) 2:22:38
Flomena Chepchichir Chumba (KEN) 2:23:00
Buzunesh Deba (ETH) 2:23:19
Tatiana Petrova Arkhipova (RUS) 2:23:29
Aleksandra Duliba (BLR) 2:23:44
Yeshi Esayias (ETH) 2:24:06
Philes Ongori (KEN) 2:24:20
Belaynesh Oljira (ETH) 2:25:01
Shalane Flanagan (USA) 2:25:38
Yolanda Caballero (COL) 2:26:17
Amy Hastings (USA) 2:27:03
Lanni Marchant (CAN) 2:28:00
Serena Burla (USA) 2:28:01
Noriko Higuchi (JPN) 2:28:49
Adriana Nelson (USA) 2:28:52
Adriana Aparecida da Silva (BRA) 2:29:17