With the top 150 women running in yesterday's Olympic Marathon Trials and most of the best-known men either injured (Mbarak Hussein, Nate Jenkins) or prepping for Beijing or this summer's track and field trials in Oregon, the primary US hopefuls for this year's Boston Marathon aren't quite marquee names.
The top men's qualifier (2 hours 16 minutes 58 seconds) is Nicholas Arciniaga, a 24-year-old from Rochester Hills, Mich., who trains with Brian Sell, who'll be competing in the Games. The top woman (2:47:15) is Krista Seibert, a 35-year-old from Powell, Ohio. Last year's top American finishers were Peter Gilmore (eighth in 2:16:41) and Deena Kastor (fifth in 2:35:09).
Date to remember
It's a big year for marathon anniversaries: 90 years since the race was devoted to 10-man military relay teams as a nod to World War I; 40 years since Amby Burfoot's breakthrough domestic victory; 25 since "Joanie's Run," the romp by Joan Benoit (2:22:43), which chopped more than two minutes off the world record, as well as Greg Meyer's victory; and 20 since Ibrahim Hussein became the first African winner.
Meyer never figured that a quarter-century later he'd still be the last US male to win here. "Hell, I thought I'd win it again," says Meyer, who'll run today (with son Jay) for the first time since 1993. "It was like someone threw the light switch on the American runners. It was off. But they're turning the switch on again with Ryan Hall and Dathan Ritzenhein and a few others."
Four decades after his victory here, Burfoot will lace up again today, as he does every fifth year. Though he ran in the Olympic trials in 1968, his priority was to win here first.
"I was inflamed with the passion of wanting to be part of the parade," says Burfoot, who was a Wesleyan student when he became the first domestic victor in 11 years.
A leg injury hampered him at the mid-August trials in Colorado, forcing Burfoot to drop out at 15 miles. "I guess you don't get more than one dream in a year," he says.
Legendary cyclist Lance Armstrong, who twice has run the New York City Marathon, will make his debut here today, wearing bib No. 100.
"Boston and New York are the two big ones," says the seven-time Tour de France champion, who'll be raising money for his foundation, which helps cancer patients. "Boston has its own lore and its own mystique. If I stay injury-free, I'd like to run both races every year if I could."
It'll be the third 26-miler for the 36-year-old Armstrong, who ran 2:59:36 in 2006 and 2:46:43 last year.
Just one of the guys
For the first time since he became race director in 1985, Guy Morse won't be at the starting line in Hopkinton this morning.
"It was a tough decision, but I thought better of it," says the Boston Athletic Association's executive director, who is recovering from surgery after rupturing both quadriceps tendons in February and is on crutches.
Morse still will be at his multiple posts around the finish line in Copley Square and will have the unaccustomed pleasure of playing meet and greet at the morning hospitality functions.
Today's weather - temperatures in the mid 50s, partly cloudy, and an easterly breeze - is about as good as it gets hereabouts on marathon day. Last year's wind-driven rain with temperatures in the 40s made for the worst conditions since 1970 . . . Once again, WBZ (Channel 4) and Versus will provide live wire-to-wire coverage of the race. WBZ will broadcast from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. and will stream live video on wbztv.com starting at 9 a.m. Versus will broadcast from 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. . . . Running here for the second time since 1972 is 76-year-old Emmett "His Many Lightnings" Eastman, a Native American elder who uses distance running to highlight his Dakota Sioux heritage. Eastman's grand uncle Charles Eastman is a key character in "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee."