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117th Boston Marathon Preview: Could An American Win?

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The elite women line up before the start of the 2013 Boston Marathon.

The elite women line up before the start of the 2013 Boston Marathon.

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BOSTON (CBS) – The weather has shaped up to be perfect for the 27,000 runners competing in the Boston Marathon Monday.

Related: Boston Marathon Guide

Unlike last year when temperatures topped 80 degrees, they are expected to be near perfect for runners.

Check: Current Conditions | Weather Map Center | Weather Blogs

The only thing that could damper the perfect spring day is the appearance of varying amounts of patchy cloudiness providing some shady spells in places.

Last year, because of the hot weather, race organizers urged any unsure runners to pull out. Organizers promised if those runners dropped out, they would be guaranteed a spot in this year’s race.

1,750 runners took them up on the offer and will be running Monday.

The marathon is a huge money-maker for the region. The race is expected to pump roughly $142 million into the greater Boston economy. About a half-million spectators will line the marathon route and spend more than $12 million in host communities.

ELITE RUNNERS

After some of the elite American men pulled out, experts say American elite runner Shalane Flanagan, a Marblehead native, could be the United States’ best chance at a win.

An American runner has not won the Boston Marathon since 1985 when Lisa Larsen Weidenbach finished first in 2:34:06. The last American man to win the race was Greg Meyer in 1983, with a time of 2:09:00.

The elite field for the 2013 marathon features some familiar faces and some newcomers.

Read: 2012 Champs Korir, Cherop Returning For 2013

Both 2012 champions Wesley Korir and Sharon Cherop are returning to defend their titles in 2013.

The Men

Korir will be fiercely challenged by a talented international field including Kenya’s Levy Matebo, who’s hoping to improve on his second place finish last year.

Two-time Olympian and 2010 New York City winner Gebre Gebremariam, who finished third in 2011 in 2:04:53 , of Ethiopia has also signed on for April’s race.

Noticeably absent this year are Americans Ryan Hall, who owns the 2:04:58 American course record in Boston, and  Meb Keflezighi, a past New York Marathon winner and Olympic silver medalist.

Hall missed significant training time due to a quad strain and Keflezighi withdrew with a calf injury.

American and four-time Olympian Abdi Abdirahman also dropped out due to an illness.

Kenya’s Moses Mosop pulled out of the race with a calf injury.

Former Boston champion and former course-record-holder Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot of Kenya also returns.  He will be joined by Dickson Chumba, also of Kenya.

Additional talent from Ethiopia includes 2011 Los Angeles champion and course record-holder Markos Geneti, 2012 Paris and Mumbai runner-up Raji Assefa and the 2012 Hamburg and 2011 Toronto winner Shami Abdullah Dawit.

Guor Marial from South Sudan is also in the field. Marial was granted refugee status in the U.S. after fleeing Sudan during the Civil War. Eight of his brothers and sisters were killed in the conflict. Marial, now a U.S. resident, went to high school in Concord, New Hampshire, and college at Iowa State. After qualifying for the 2012 Olympics, but not yet having a country to run for, the International Olympic Committee honored him with entry to participate under the Olympic Flag.

The Women

Headlining the women’s field are defending champion Cherop of Kenya, Dubai’s two-time winner and 2:19:31 course-record-holder Aselefech Medessa Mergia of Ethiopia and 2012 World Half- Marathon champion and Amsterdam’s 2:21:09 course-record-holder Meseret Hailu Debele of Ethiopia. Past Boston champion and 2012 Chicago runner-up Rita Jeptoo of Kenya returns, as does Mexican national-recordholder Madai Pérez.

Read-Watch: Confident Shalane Flanagan Out To Win Boston

Top Olympians Tetiana Gamera-Shmyrko of the Ukraine and Americans Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher will present a strong challenge.

Gamera-Shmyrko placed fifth at the London Olympic Marathon and Flanagan and Goucher finished tenth and eleventh respectively.

Flanagan is a three-time Olympian, winning the bronze medal in the 10,000 meters in Beijing, and finished runner-up in her marathon debut in New York City before winning the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon.

Goucher will be running Boston for the third time.  She finished third in 2009 and fifth in 2011.

STORIES TO WATCH FOR

Mile marker 26 was recently dedicated to the 26 victims of the Newtown, Conn. shooting. Laura Nowacki, a spokeswoman for the Newtown Strong Fund, says the runners will hit Heartbreak Hill knowing it’s nothing like the pain felt by the victims’ families. There will also be 26 seconds of silence at the starting line before each wave of the race.

Dick and Rick Hoyt are back to compete in their 31st Boston Marathon. A statue dedicated to the Hoyt team was recently unveiled outside the Center School near the start line.

Kris and Kayla Biagiotti of Mendon are getting ready to make Boston Marathon history this year. The fearless mother-daughter duo conquered their first marathon in New Hampshire last fall, and are now ready for Boston. This will be the first mother-daughter team in Boston Marathon history.

A group of wounded warriors will be hand-cycling the 26.2 mile course. They are part of  Achilles International, the nonprofit group that organized the Achilles Freedom Team.

One father from Newton is running to help save his young son’s vision. Quentin Miquel was born with a genetic condition which causes the layers of his retina to split and impairs his vision.

WBZ-TV is the only local station with live wire-to-wire coverage of the 2013 Boston Marathon on Monday, April 14th.

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