BOSTON (CBS) — With the wait for the 2019 Boston Marathon hitting its final stretch, it’s time to focus on some of the runners who could break the tape at the 123rd running of the historic race.
Here are a handful of runners from both the men’s and women’s elite field, plus some of the very best in the wheelchair divisions, that you should definitely know about heading into Monday’s race. There are a few interesting tidbits about each of them, because anyone who chooses to run 26.2 miles has to be interesting, right?
Yuki Kawauchi, Japan
2018 Boston Finish: 1st, 2:15:58
– You should know plenty about Kawauchi, who wasn’t fazed by the crummy weather in Boston last year. He became the first Japanese man to win Boston in 31 years with his 2018 victory.
– He has won over 30 marathons and owns the world record for running the most sub-2:12 marathons with 27. Translation: He’s fast.
– Kawauchi, 32, was a high school administrator in Japan, but retired after his Boston victory to focus on his running. After winning last year’s Boston Marathon, Kawauchi had to ask for an extra day off to enjoy all the day-after festivities.
– Kawauchi has run eight marathons since winning in Boston, breaking the tape in two of them. He won the Hofu Marathon in December with a time of 2:11:29, and the Shizuoka Marathon on Feb. 24 with a time of 2:13:41. His most recent race was the Lake Biwa Marathon in Otsu, Japan, placing eighth despite a 2:09:21 finish.
– One of his mentors is four-time Boston Marathon champion Bill Rodgers, who encouraged Kawauchi to run in Boston.
– Personal best: 2:08:14 (Seoul, 2013)
– He will not be the only Kawauchi running the Boston Marathon this year, as Yuki’s mother will also making the 26.2 trek from Hopkinton to Boston.
Lawrence Cherono, Kenya
– Cherono is set to make his Boston debut, and is touted as the fastest man in the 2019 field.
– He set his personal best of 2:04:06 in his victory in the 2018 Amsterdam Marathon, setting a course record. He also won Amersterdam in 2017, and has victories in Honolulu (2016, 2017), Prague (2016) and Zurich (2015).
– Cherono’s running coach is 2007 Boston Marathon runner-up James Kwambai.
– When he isn’t running, the native of Eldoret, Kenya enjoys farming.
Geoffrey Kirui, Kenya
2018 Boston Finish: 2nd, 2:18:23
– Kirui’s win in the 2017 Boston Marathon was just his third marathon.
– He took home a gold medal at the IAAF World Championship Marathon in 2017 with a 2:08:27 finish.
– Kirui finished sixth in the 2018 Chicago Marathon (2:06:45), which was just a few ticks short of his personal best of 2:06:27 (set in the 2016 Amsterdam Marathon).
Wesley Korir, Kenya
– Korir won the 2012 Boston Marathon in 2:12:40 despite temps in the mid-80s. He sang during the race to maintain his focus.
– He made his marathon debut in the 2008 Chicago Marathon, recording his fourth-fastest time overall (2:13:53).
– Korir’s fastest finish came in the 2012 Chicago Marathon, finishing in 2:06:13 — good for fifth-place.
– He has 12 top-10 finishes in Abbot World Marathon Major events.
– He was a member of the Kenyan Olympic Marathon team in Rio in 2016, but had to drop out of the race.
– Korir and his wife, Canadian runner Tarah McKay, have done a lot to support Korir’s home village of Kitale. They founded the Kenyan Kids’ Foundation to support children, farmers and healthcare providers, and also built a hospital in honor of Korir’s brother, who died from a snakebite.
Lelisa Desisa, Ethiopia
2018 Boston Finish: Did Not Finish
– Desisa is going for an unprecedented third victory in Boston after winning the race in 2013 and 2015. He gave his 2013 medal back to the city of Boston to honor the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings.
– He is the only Ethiopian runner to win the Boston Marathon twice.
– Desisa added another trophy to his mantle in November, winning the New York City Marathon with a 2:05:59 finish.
– Personal best: 2:04:45 (Dubai, 2013)
Dathan Ritzenhein, USA
– A Rockford, Michigan native, Ritzenhein is a three-time Olympian and the fourth-fastest U.S. marathoner of all time, behind Khalid Khannouchi, Ryan Hall and Galen Rupp.
– Ritzenhein made his Boston debut in 2015 and finished as the top American with a 2:11:20 finish, good for seventh overall.
– He started running at the age of 11 and went on to run for the University of Colorado, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in history. He is currently an assistant track coach at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan.
– Personal best: 2:07:47 (Chicago, 2012)
Jared Ward, USA
– Ward was the top American finisher at the 2018 New York City Marathon, finishing sixth overall at 2:12:24.
– He placed 10th in the 2017 Boston Marathon with a 2:15:28 finish.
– Placed third in the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials to secure a spot in Rio, which Ward calls his proudest moment in racing. He finished sixth in Rio.
– Was an All-American runner at Brigham Young University, and graduated with a master’s degree in statistics.
– Personal best: 2:11:30 (Rio Olympics, 2016)
Shadrack Biwott, USA
2018 Boston Finish: 3rd, 2:18:35
– After finishing in fourth place in his Boston debut in 2017, Biwott earned a spot at the podium in 2018 with a third-place finish.
– He was a four-time All American at the University of Oregon, where he was teammates with Galen Rupp. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sociology.
– Biwott was born in Eldoret, Kenya but came to the United States as a teenager. He became an American citizen in 2012, and now trains in California and Florida.
– Personal best: 2:12:01 (New York City, 2016)
Abdi Abdirahman, USA
2018 Boston Finish: 15th, 2:28:18
– Adbirahman, 42, is a four-time Olympian and four-time U.S. National champ in the 10,000m, winning the event in 2001, 2005, 2007 and 2008.
– His best finish in a marathon came in the 2016 New York City Marathon, when Abdi finished third at 2:11:23. His best finish in Boston was in 2017, when he finished sixth.
– Abdirahman was born in Mogadishu, Somolia before emigrating to the United States, where attending high school in Tucson, Arizona. He attended Pima Community College and University of Arizona, and was named the Pac-10 Cross Country Male Athlete of the Year in 1998.
– He became an American citizen in 2000.
– Personal best: 2:08:56 (Chicago, 2006)
Timothy Ritchie, USA
2018 Boston Finish: Did Not Finish
– We’ll close things out on the Men’s side with a local elite, Tim Ritchie, who was featured on WBZ-TV earlier this month. He grew up in Worcester and ran for Boston College, and is now the Men’s cross country coach at UMass Amherst.
– Ricthie was the 2017 U.S. Marathon Champion, winning the California International Marathon with a time of 2:11:56 — his career best.
– He has run the Boston Marathon twice, finishing in 2:21:31 in 2013 (good for 25th). He did not finish last year’s race.
– In 2006, Richie and two friends rode their bikes across the country from Los Angeles to Boston.
– A fun fact about nothing: Ritchie can quote all nine seasons of Seinfeld.
Desiree Linden, USA
2018 Boston Finish: 1st, 2:39:54
– Linden became the first American woman to win the Boston Marathon in 33 years with her victory in 2018.
– Since her Boston debut in 2007, she’s tackled the 26.2-mile course six times. Linden nearly won the race in 2011, missing a victory by just two seconds. She finished that marathon in 2:22:38 to set her personal best.
– Linden has eight top-five finishes in Abbot World Marathon Majors, including her second-place finish in the Chicago Marathon in 2011.
– She finished seventh in the 2016 Olympic Games Marathon in Rio. Linden placed second in the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in 2012 and 2016.
– She owns two dogs, one of which is named Boston.
Sarah Sellers, USA
2018 Boston Finish: 2nd, 2:44;04
– Sellers was the surprise runner-up of last year’s race, and couldn’t believe it herself: “My initial reaction was denial. Placing second wasn’t a remote possibility in my world.”
– After Boston last year, Sellers finished the New York City Marathon in 2:36:37. It was good for 18th place and was an eight-minute improvement on her time in Boston.
– Sellers made her marathon debut by winning the 2017 Huntsville Marathon in Utah, finishing in 2:44:27.
– She attended Weber State University in Utah where she won nine Big Sky Championships and 15 Big Sky All-American honors.
– Sellers is a certified nurse anesthetic at Banner University Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona. Her husband, Blake, is an orthopedic surgeon.
– The Sellers family has quite the zoo going at home, owners of three border collies, a salt water fish tank, a pair of owl finches and a boa constrictor.
Edna Kiplagat, Kenya
2018 Boston Finish: 9th, 2:47:14
– Kiplagat is one of the most accomplished runners in the world, and already has a Boston victory under her bib. She won the 2017 Boston Marathon with ease, finishing in 2:21:52 — the second fastest winning time ever.
– She also has marathon victories in London (2014), New York City (2010) and Los Angeles (2005).
– Kiplagat won the gold medal in the IAAF World Championships twice (2011, 2013), and brought home silver in 2017.
– She was the first elite woman to run all six Abbot World Marathon Majors.
– Kiplagat said that the 2018 Boston Marathon was one of the hardest races she’s ever run, but never considered dropping out.
– When she isn’t running, Kiplagat is a policewoman in Iten, Kenya. She also volunteers to help keep a clean environment in Kenya.
Sara Hall, USA
– Hall was an All-American at Stanford and won a Gold Medal at the 2011 Pan American Games in the 3,000m steeplechase.
– The 2015 Chicago Marathon was her first marathon. Hall finished 10th with a 2:31:14 finish.
– Personal best: 2:26:20 (Ottawa, 2018)
– Married to retired runner Ryan Hall, who is also her coach.
– The Halls live in Flagstaff, Arizona with their four daughters, who are adopted sisters from Ethiopia. The Halls founded the Hall Steps Foundation, which provides orphan care in Ethiopia.
– Hall rarely goes on training runs by herself, and is often joined by her three dogs, Kai, Mita and Dash.
Caroline Rotich, Kenya
2018 Boston Finish: Did Not Finish
– Rotich won the 2015 Boston Marathon, beating out Mare Dibaba by just four seconds.
– She has run Boston three times since her victory but did not finish any of those races. She sees the 2019 Boston Marathon as a chance for redemption.
– Rotich also won the Las Vegas Marathon in 2009 and Prague Marathon in 2013.
– She was born in Kenya, but Rotich attended high school in Sendai, Japan.
– Fluent in English, Japanese and Kiswahili.
– Rotich lives in the U.S. and trains in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
– Personal best: 2:23:22 (Chicago, 2012)
Sharon Cherop, Kenya
– The 2012 champion is back to run Boston for the sixth time this year.
– Cherop has finished 10 marathons under 2:26:05. In 21 career marathons, she has missed the top five only twice.
– She has victories in the Singapore, Turin, Toronto and Hamburg Marathons, and also won a bronze at the 2011 IAAF World Championships Marathon.
– Personal best: 2:22:28 (Berlin, 2013)
Jordan Hasay, USA
– Hasay, 27, made her marathon debut in 2017 in Boston and came in third with a 2:23:00 finish. It set a record for fastest debut by an American woman by three minutes, and was the fourth-fastest time ever run by an American woman behind Linden, Shalane Flanagan and Joan Benoit Samuelson.
– She pulled out of last year’s race the night before with a fracture in her left heel.
– Hasay finished the 2017 Chicago Marathon in 2:20:57 (her personal best), which made her the second-fastest American in history. She placed third in the race.
– She attended the University of Oregon, where she was an 18-time All-American and was part of the cross country team that won a Division I title.
– Hasay was a two-time Foot Locker Cross Country Champion at Mission College Prep High School in California, where she set nine national high school records. She was also valedictorian of her class.
– She is coached by 1982 Boston Marathon winner Alberto Salazar.
Krista Duchene, Canada
2018 Boston Finish: 3rd, 2:44:20
– The Ontario native didn’t start running marathons until 2002, after she retired from her career in hockey. She played at the University of Guelph and won the final four MVP after her team won the 1997-98 provincial championship. They placed fourth at the National Championships.
She took up running for fun and to stay in shape. It has worked out pretty well for the 42-year-old.
– Since she joined the running world, Duchene has become Canada’s all-time best marathon runner and the third-fastest. She has won multiple national championships in both the marathon and half-marathon.
– Known as “Canada’s Marathon Mom” after winning the 2009 Mississauga Marathon on Mother’s Day. It was her first marathon following the birth of her second child.
– Duchene finished third in Boston in 2018. Her first Boston Marathon was back in 2005, when she finished in just under three hours.
– After placing third in the 2015 Rotterdam Marathon (finishing in 2:32:06), the then-38-year-old Duchene became the first Canadian woman in 20 years to qualify for the Olympics.
– Personal best: 2:28:32 (Toronto, 2013)
– Is a registered dietitian.
Fionnuala McCormack, Ireland
– The Wicklow, Ireland native is a three-time Olympian and one of the country’s most accomplished runners. McCormack won gold medals at the 2011 and 2012 European Cross Country Championships. She finished 20th for Ireland in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, setting a personal best of 2:31:22.
– Made her Marathon debut in Zurich in 2014, finishing the race in 2:31:46 to place 10th.
– She finished 13th in the 2015 Chicago Marathon with a finish time of 2:33:15.
– McCormack is very much looking forward to her Boston debut: “As an Irish athlete it is important for me to run Boston, as there is a connection between Ireland and the city of Boston as well as with the race itself,” she told the B.A.A. “I also like that the race is not necessarily about fast times but about great competition.”
– Her husband, Alan, is also her coach and training partner. Her sister, Una, is also an elite runner.
Mary Ngugi, Kenya
– This year is not just Ngugi’s Boston debut, but her first marathon.
– Ngugi is plenty familiar with Boston though, winning the B.A.A. Half Marathon twice (2015, 2016), the B.A.A. 10K twice (2015, 2018) and the B.A.A. 5K in 2015.
– She won a silver medal at the 2014 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships (finishing in 67:44), and the bronze medal two years later in 2016 (67:54).
– Her favorite sports team is Chelsea.
Marcel Hug, Switzerland
2018 Boston Finish: 1st, 1:46:26
– Nickamed the “Swiss Silver Bullet,” Hug has won the last four Boston Marathons. He also has victories in Berlin (2011, 2012), New York City (2013, 2016, 2017), London (2014, 2016) and Chicago (2016).
– Born with spina bifida, Hug started racing when he was 10 years old thanks to a sports teacher who brought him a racing wheelchair. He won the 3km youth race at the Schenkon Marathon that year, which is what got him into the world of racing.
– Hug has his share of gold medals. He won two at the Paralympic Games in Rio in 2016, has nine World Championships and six European Championships.
– Hug had two photo finishes in 2016, beating Australian Kurt Fearnley in both the Chicago and New York City Marathons.
Ernst Van Dyk, South Africa
2018 Boston Finish: 2nd, 1:47:14
– This man needs no introduction in Boston, where he’s claimed marathon glory a record 10 times. Van Dyk won six straight from 2001 to 2006. His last win in Boston came in 2014, when he led the race from start to finish.
– Van Dyk has placed on the podium all but two times in his 19 Boston Marathons, finishing second five times and third on two occasions.
– He was born with congenital absence of both legs, and was an accomplished swimmer (participating in the 2012 Paralympics in Barcelona) before he set his focus on racing.
– Van Dyk started the company Enabled Sport, which deals in equipment for athletes with disabilities.
Daniel Romanchuk, USA
2018 Boston Finish: 3rd, 1:50:39
– Romanchuk won the Chicago Marathon in 2018 for his first-ever marathon victory. Just a few weeks later, he became the first U.S. man to win the wheelchair race at the New York City Marathon, and the youngest to ever do so at the age of 20.
He won both races by a combined two seconds, finishing just ahead of Marcel Hug in both.
– Born with spina bifida, Romanchuk is part of the University of Illinois wheelchair racing team.
Tatyana McFadden, USA
2018 Boston Finish: 1st, 2:04:39
– McFadden has won five of the last six Boston Marathons (she missed the 2017 race due to blood clots). Her first marathon was the Chicago Marathon in 2009, which she won.
– She was born with spina bifida and was abandoned by her birth mother in Leningrad, then of the Soviet Union. She walked on her hands for the first six years of her life, before she was adopted Debra McFadden, the U.S. Commissioner of Disabilities under president George H.W. Bush.
– In 2013, McFadden claimed victories in Boston, Chicago, London, and New York City, becoming the first person to ever win four major marathons in the same year.
– She won six gold medals during the 2013 IPC Athetlics World Championships in Lyon, France, the first athlete to ever accomplish that feat. Overall, she has 17 Paralympic medals in her racing career.
Susannah Scaroni, USA
2018 Boston Finish: 2nd, 2:20:01
– Last year’s runner-up is no stranger to Boston. Scaroni finished third the 2014, 2015 and 2017 Boston Marathons. She finished the 2017 race in 1:33:17, which is her personal-best time by more than five minutes.
– She is a two-time Paralympian, finishing seventh in the 2016 Rio Paralympic Marathon and eighth in the 2012 London Paralympic Marathon. In Rio, she was only two seconds back from a podium position.
Manuela Schar, Switzerland
– Paralyzed by a playground accident in 1993, Schar took up Para athletics five years later at the age of 14. She is a three-time Paralympic medalist and a six-time European champion.
– Schar won the Boston Marathon in 2017, setting a course record of 1:28:17. She broke Wakako Tsuchida’s world best and course record by 5:49, becoming the first woman to ever dip below 1:30 in Boston. She also won the 2017 London Marathon.
– She won the Chicago and New York City Marathon in 2018, and had another victory in the 2018 Tokyo Marathon.
Tune in to WBZ-TV on Marathon Monday for wall-to-wall coverage of the 2019 Boston Marathon! Coverage begins at 7 a.m. on TV and at 9 a.m. online at CBSBoston.com!