Sunday, April 07, 2024

2024 Boston Marathon Pro Field Preview

Article by Benjamin David

2024 Boston Marathon Preview

The Boston Marathon is a harbinger of good and has been for decades. Patriots Day signals that spring is here in earnest, the racing season has arrived and the dread of dreary winter has passed. Perpetually set against the backdrop of domestic or international strife, the Boston Marathon comes along and reminds us that we indeed know how to unify and achieve a modicum of peace and humanity together. Let’s get to it.

The allure of Boston is different than other World Marathon Majors. It’s run on relatively modest roads. There aren’t any iconic bridges or wide avenues. Boston is about tradition and a course that tempts runners into a false sense of calm. The Newton Hills lie in wait for anyone who hasn’t brought their keenest and most patient race plan with them. 

This year’s race, which takes place on April 15, has particular intrigue as it comes just months prior to the Paris Olympic Games. Some will arrive in hopes of proving their worth to a selection committee back home. Some, especially a cadre of Americans, will come in hopes of redeeming themselves following disappointing results earlier in the year.


International Field:

Two Ethiopians, Tadu Teshome and Hiwott Gebremaryam, come in with the fastest personal best times in the women’s pro field. Both have run sub-2:18. No doubt five of their fellow countrywomen will be right there with them for as long as possible, all with PR’s under 2:20. 

We can only expect that they will be challenged by the ageless Edna Kiplagat and many of the other impressive Kenyans in the field: Mary Ngugi-Cooper, who has run Boston multiple times and always found a way to a stellar finish (three top 10’s in the last three years), or Judith Korir, who was second at the World Championships in Eugene in 2022. 

Another dangerous Kenyan to keep a close eye on is of course Hellen Obiri, last year’s champion. She will be back again and eager to continue her winning ways. After winning Boston, she went on to win the NYC Marathon. Part of the On Athletic Club, she is coached by Dathan Ritzenhein. Sharon Lokedi, another past NYC winner (2022), will certainly be contending for the win as well. 

The Americans:

A strong collection of Americans will toe the line in Hopkinton, many of them hoping to bounce back from not making the Olympic team at February’s U.S. trials in Orlando. 

In this group are Sara Hall, Caroline Rotich and 2018 Boston champ, Des Linden. All three have sensational resumes. Hall, who finished a heart-breaking fifth at the trials, has a 2:20 PB from 2020. She’s been top American at countless events, including the World Championships in 2022, where she was fifth overall. Always a gutsy racer, many will be rooting for her, including her husband Ryan Hall, who ran 2:04:58 at the 2011 Boston Marathon. 

Des Linden, who has run Boston ten times, comes in after finishing eleventh at the trials in Orlando. She is extremely tough, extremely consistent and will be ready to pick off whichever runners who go out too fast. She is joined by another past Boston champ (2015), Caroline Rotich, who finished sixth at the trials. Rotich, who became an American citizen in 2023, has both the experience and the motivation to perform well on April 15. 

Puma athlete Jenny Simpson, the highly decorated middle distance runner, dipped her toe in the marathon at the trials in February, but wound up dropping out at mile 18. Look for her to take the lessons of that day and have a solid run.

While many will be eyeing the performance of Hall, Linden, Rotich and Simpson, another talented American to pay attention to is Emma Bates. Unfortunately she had to miss the trials due to a lingering foot injury from last fall’s Chicago Marathon. Bates was top American at this past year’s Boston. Bates, who runs for Asics, finished fifth overall in a personal best time of 2:22:10. She was second in Chicago in 2021 and seventh at the World Championships the following summer. If she’s feeling healthy and strong, look for her to still be with the leaders late in the race. 


The International Field:

Like the women’s, the men’s international field is loaded with star-studded talent. Ten men will stand on the starting line with a personal best under 2:06. There are past winners (Chebet and Kipruto). There are national record holders (Butterfield of Bermuda, Jami of Ecuador, Mpofu of Zimbabme, Geay of Tanzania).

Ethiopian Sissay Lemma comes in with the fastest PR, having run an extraordinary 2:01:48 when he won the Valencia Marathon in December. He is also a past winner of the London Marathon (2021). He has been top three at various World Marathon Majors, including Tokyo and Berlin. 

He will be challenged by the winner of the last two Boston Marathons, Kenyan Evans Chebet, who has also won Valencia and NYC (2020 and 2022 respectively). He knows the course, knows how to win and will be extremely difficult to beat. (He might also be particularly inspired to run well after having been snubbed by the Kenyan Olympic selection committee). 

Others to watch include Gabriel Geay and Kenyans Kotut and Korir. Japanese runner Suguru Osako will look to compete with the east Africans and contend for the win. He was sixth in the marathon at the last Olympic Games. 

The Americans:

A number of Americans will make a quick turnaround from the marathon trials in Orlando in an attempt to either redeem themselves or build on the success they had in Florida. 

Elkanah Kibet, who finished an agonizing fourth at the trials, leads the way, no doubt with something to prove. Kibet, who is a member of the US Army World Class Athlete program, runs for Asics and comes in with a PR of 2:09:07, which he set in Boston last year. 

He is joined by fan-favorite CJ Albertson. CJ finished fifth at the trials in 2:10:07. He famously led the 2021 Boston Marathon for 20 miles, soaking in the love from the crowd as he went. A Brooks runner, Albertson is both highly consistent and known for his rather unconventional training methods. He holds the world record in the 50k. Sam Chelanga, who comes in with a PR of 2:08:50 from this past year’s Chicago Marathon, could also have a big day. 

Others to look for in the elite field are Matt McDonald, Will Nation, Patrick Smyth and Road Trail Run’s very own Ryan Eiler hot off 46:13 15K and 1:05 half PR's this early spring.

The Shoes:

As we are a shoe and gear review website, it would only be appropriate to mention the shoes we may see on Patriot’s Day. Who will win the day in this regard? Nike? Adidas? Asics? Will racers opt for the VaporFly 3 over the AlphaFly 3? Will we see the Adios Prov Evo 1 atop the podium? Will Asics runners opt for the Paris Sky over the Edge? We shall see!


Women’s Race




Men’s Race




Ben is the Senior Rabbi of Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel of Elkins Park, PA. A cancer survivor, he has run 21 marathons. He holds PRs of 3:15 for the marathon and 1:30 for the half. At 46, he still enjoys pushing himself and combining his running with supporting a variety of causes. Follow him on Instagram: @RabbiBPD 

Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Without reading you know any decent non-white guy is the winner. Such is the way it is.