The elite field is set for the 122nd running of the Boston Marathon on Patriot's Day, Monday, April 16, and it’s one of the best in recent years.
The 2018 race will include six former Boston Marathon champions and 23 Olympians. Put together, these athletes have won more than 100 marathons around the world.
The men's field is topped by 2017 winner Geoffrey Kirui of Kenya, two-time winner Lelisa Desisa and 2016 Boston Marathon champion Lemi Behanu, both from Ethiopia.
Defending champion Edna Kiplagat of Kenya leads the women's international field. But she'll be challenged by Bahrain's Eunic Kirwa, the 2016 Olympic Marathon silver medalist and Ethiopia's Aselefech Mergia, a past London Marathon winner and a three time champion in the Dubai Marathon.
Americans will certainly play a major role in this year's race. Galen Rupp is coming back after his second-place finish in Boston last year. Rupp went on to win the Chicago Marathon in October, the first American to do that since 2002. He also won a bronze medal in the 2016 Olympic Marathon in Rio.
Other American contenders on the men's side include Shadrack Biwott, who was fourth in 2017 and Olympians Dathan Ritzenhein and Abdi Abdirahman, who finished sixth last year.
On the women's side, Shalane Flanagan, who grew up in Marblehead, will make one more attempt to win her hometown race. Flanagan has had three top ten finishes in Boston. She missed last year's race with an injury, but later scored an historic victory in the New York Marathon in November.
Flanagan was the first American woman to win that race in 40 years. At 36, there was some speculation that about retirement, but she brushed that aside and will tackle Boston again.
Flanagan leads a very strong US women's field, which also includes Des Linden, an Olympian who finished second in the 2011 Boston Marathon, Jordan Hasay, third in last year's race and Deena Kastor, the American record holder in the marathon.
“We look forward to our 2018 John Hancock Elite Athlete Team joining us on Patriots’ Day to seek the coveted Boston Marathon title,” said John Hancock Chief Marketing Officer Barbara Goose said in a statement. “Over the past 33 years of our sponsorship, we have hosted more 800 of the world’s best runners from 48 countries, and this year’s team ranks with the best of them."
The 2018 world marathon season gets underway February 25th with the Tokyo Marathon, continues with Boston and London in April and wraps up Berlin, Chicago and New York in the fall.