BOSTON — Folks in the Boston area are already seeing them: the runners out on the roads putting in the early training for next year’s Boston Marathon.
And it looks like the race will once again attract a top-flight field. According to John Hancock, the race sponsor, the defending men’s and women’s champions from this year’s race, Wesley Korir and Sharon Cherop, are scheduled to compete in the 117th running of the race on April 15, 2013.
The two Kenyan runners defeated the rest of their competitors — along with the 85-degree temperatures — in this year’s marathon. Korir ran a strategic race against the fastest men’s field ever assembled for Boston. He was sixth at mile 20 but he started picking off the runners in front of him one-by-one and moved up to second by mile 24. By the time the runners reached Boylston Street Korir was in the lead. He won in 2:12:40. Kenyans Levy Matebo and Bernard Kipyego, who had pushed the pace, finished second and third. American Jason Hartman finished fourth.
In the women’s race this past April Cherop learned from her experience in the 2011 Boston Marathon, when she finished third, just six seconds behind the winner, Caroline Kilel. The 2012 race was just as close, but Cherop’s surge in the final mile was enough to break fellow Kenyan Jemima Sumgong. Cherop’s winning time was 2:31:50. This was the fifth straight year the women’s race has been decided by three seconds or less.
What about the Americans, who are still trying to break a drought that stretches back to the 1980s, the last time a man or woman from the U.S. won the Boston Marathon? Well, on the women’s side, Olympians Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan say they plan to toe the line in Hopkinton next April. Flanagan and Goucher finished 10th and 11th, respectively, in the London Olympic Marathon in August. Goucher has been here before. She finished third in 2009 and fifth in 2011. Flanagan, who grew up in Marblehead, will be running the Boston Marathon for the first time. On Twitter she said she had run 32 miles on the marathon course this week. Another American, Desiree Davila, who finished second in the 2011 Boston Marathon in the fastest time ever run by an American on the course, is also expected to run in the 2013 race. Davila was also on the marathon team at the Olympics in London but had to drop out of the race after only two miles because of a hip injury.
On the men’s side, American Olympian Ryan Hall hasn’t committed to running Boston next year. Hall is reportedly going to train in Kenya in 2013. He too had to drop out of the London Olympic Marathon with an injury. He has made it clear in the past that he loves the Boston Marathon and really wants to win it someday. In the 2011 Boston Marathon Hall finished fourth in 2:04:58, the fastest ever marathon run by an American. He also finished third in 2009 and fourth in 2010.