The 2015 Boston Marathon will be stacked with former champions. Three men who have won the elite competition will run the 119th edition of the famous footrace, and they will be joined by two past women's champions.
Keflezighi, who followed his Boston victory with a fourth-place finish in New York last November, will toe the starting line April 20 with the 2013 winner Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia and 2012 champion Wesley Korir of Kenya.
Besides those men, though, there are many other possible contenders in this year's Patriot's Day race. Ethiopian Gebre Gebremariam has tons of experience on the 26.2-mile Boston course, finishing third twice (2012 and 2013). He also won the 2010 New York Marathon.
Patrick Makau of Kenya is a former world record holder and he won the Fukuoka Marathon in Japan in December. Then there are two other Kenyans: two-time world champion Abel Kirui and 2014 Boston runner-up Wilson Chebet.
In the women's race, defending champion Rita Jeptoo is not returning. Her future is up in the air because she tested positive twice for performance-enhancing drugs, and athletics officials in Kenya are deciding how she should be punished. A suspension appears likely and she could lose her Boston title, as well as her win in Chicago in October. That Chicago win followed Jeptoo's second positive drug test.
But even without her, the women's field features at least 10 runners who have run marathons in under 2:22:00, led by 2012 and 2011 Boston winners Sharon Cherop and Caroline Kilel.
The top American woman in the race this spring is Shalane Flanagan, who grew up in Marblehead watching her dad run the Boston Marathon. She's running Boston for the third time after a strong third-place finish in Berlin last fall.
“For 30 years, John Hancock as principal sponsor of the Boston Marathon has been recruiting many of the world’s best marathoners to run here,” Tom Grilk, executive director of the Boston Athletic Association, said in a statement. “During the last three decades, unpredictable and compelling races have played out on the streets from Hopkinton to Boston, as our American and international athletes push themselves to win here, more than any other race they will contest. We look forward to the spring and watching new stories unfold in these athletes’ quest to capture the olive wreath at the finish on Boylston Street.”
The world's major marathons and their sponsors are always competing for the top runners. Boston has great prestige, but it's not possible to run an official world record on the course. That's because it's point-to-point, not a loop, and, in terms of elevation, it's net downhill.
This could explain why Dennis Kimetto, the current marathon world record holder, and the man whose record Kimetto broke, Wilson Kipsang, are running the London Marathon six days after Boston, April 26.