BOSTON — The elite runners’ fields for the 118th Boston Marathon are starting to take shape. The defending champions in the men’s and women’s races, Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa and Kenya’s Rita Jeptoo, will return to try to claim those titles again on April 21, 2014.
The announcement comes from longtime marathon sponsor John Hancock Financial.
Of course, next year’s race will be the first since the bombings near the finish line at this year’s marathon in April. Those bombs killed three people and injured more than 260.
When Desisa was in Boston this summer for the Boston Athletic Association 10-kilometer race, he gave his Boston Marathon winner’s medal to the city as a way to honor the victims and the people affected by the bombings.
The 23-year-old Desisa is an emerging talent on the world marathon stage. He also won the Dubai Marathon earlier this year and finished second in the World Championship Marathon in August. He won the Boston Marathon last April in 2:10:22.
Jeptoo is a veteran marathon runner. She is a two-time Boston Marathon champion, having also won the race in 2006. In October, she added the Chicago Marathon championship to her trophy case. Jeptoo’s winning time in Boston was 2:26:25.
“We are delighted to have both Rita and Lelisa join us again in 2014 for the 118th Boston Marathon,” the BAA’s executive director, Tom Grilk, said in a statement. “Both of these champions posted outstanding performances at the 2013 Marathon, winning over world-class competition. The B.A.A. and many others who will recognize the significance of their return in 2014 after the attack on the City of Boston in 2013 will celebrate their participation.”
Some 36,000 runners are expected to participate in the 2014 marathon. The BAA increased the field size by 9,000 because so many runners want to run the race after the bombings.