BOSTON (CBS) — The elite fields for the 2016 Boston Marathon have been announced, with both defending champions returning for the 120th running of the world famous race.
On the men’s side, Boston champs Lelisa Desisa (Ethiopia), Caroline Rotich (Kenya), Geoffrey Mutai (Kenya) and Wesley Korir (Kenya) will all be back. Desisa will be defending his title from last year, looking to claim his third Boston Marathon overall. Mutai’s best finish came on the Boston course in 2011, when he completed the race in 2:03:02.READ MORE: Rusted Out Stairs In Dorchester Removed After BU Professor David Jones' Death
Challenging that group of champions for this year’s olive wreath are Yemane Adhane Tsegay (Ethiopia), Wilson Chebet (Kenya), and Michael Kipyego (Kenya). Tsegay and Chebet finished second and third, respectively, in Boston last year.
Sammy Kitwara (Kenya), last year’s runner-up in Chicago and a former Rotterdam winner, is among the sub-2:05 men making their Boston debut this year. He’ll be joined by Tsegaye Mekonnen (Ethiopia), who ran to a 2:04:32 debut to earn a 2014 victory in Dubai.
U.S. elite men include Ian Burrell, who finished as the first American at the World Championships Marathon this past summer, and Girma Mecheso, who won the 2014 U.S. 20K Championships. Mecheso will be making his marathon debut.
San Diego and San Jose Half Marathon champion Jordan Chipangama from Zambia is also in the field. Chipangama lives and trains in the United States.READ MORE: Missing Woman Dolly Thapa Found Safe
Tiki Gelana (Ethiopia), the 2012 Olympic Marathon gold medalist, leads the field on the women’s side as she makes her Boston debut. Gelana, also a past champion of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, is seeking a place on the 2016 Ethiopian Olympic team with a strong Boston performance. Her personal best time came in Rotterdam in 2012, when she ran a 2:18:58 marathon.
Buzunesh Deba (Ethiopia), Tirfe Tsegaye (Ethiopia), Mamitu Daska (Ethiopia) and Atsede Bayisa (Ethiopia) are also eyeing a podium finish in Boston. Deba finished second in Boston in 2014 and third last year, and is the champion of eight marathons held in the United States. Tsegaye has won marathons in Berlin, Tokyo, Paris and Dubai, with a personal best of 2:20:18 in Berlin in 2014, while Daska has had success on the roads of Boston, claiming both the B.A.A. 10K and B.A.A. Half Marathon.
Bringing some Boston experience to the race are 2015 champion Caroline Rotich (Kenya), who has run Boston three times. Three-time Olympian Jelena Prokopcuka (Latvia), who is a two-time New York City winner and two-time Boston runner up, and Olympian Joyce Chepkirui (Kenya), who won both Amsterdam and Honolulu last year and finished tenth in Boston, will also be back in 2016.
American Neely Spence Gracey will make her highly anticipated marathon debut in Boston.
“We already look forward to welcoming these top international marathoners to Boston in April,” B.A.A. Executive Director Tom Grilk said in a release. “Our team works year-round to play host and set a stage worthy of the caliber of professional athletes that will run here along with the rest of the splendid athletes in our field. We wish the John Hancock Elite Athlete Team members good luck with their training with fewer than 100 days to go until our 120th race.”MORE NEWS: Baker, Sununu Join Other Republican Governors In Demanding Border Security Meeting With Biden
The 120th Boston Marathon will be held on April 18, 2016, with WBZ-TV once again serving as the exclusive local home of the race. Wednesday’s announcement was made by John Hancock Finacial, now in its 31st year as principal sponsor of the Boston Marathon.