Six previous champs among elite field for 2018 Boston Marathon

Edna Kiplagat Abel Kirui
Edna Kiplagat (left) and Geoffrey Kirui (right) will be back to defend their 2017 Boston Marathon titles. –John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Six previous champions and 17 top US runners will be among the elite men’s and women’s entrants for the 122d Boston Marathon, an international field that includes 23 Olympians, race sponsor John Hancock announced.

Altogether, the field has 14 Olympic and IAAF World Championships marathon medalists, as well as more than 100 combined global marathon wins, including 17 Abbott World Marathon Majors.

Defending champion Geoffrey Kirui of Kenya; two-time Boston champion and 2013 World Championships Marathon silver medalist Lelisa Desisaof Ethiopia; and 2016 Boston winner Lemi Berhanu of Ethiopia lead a formidable men’s field. Also contending is 2017 World Championships Marathon silver medalist Tamirat Tola of Ethiopia.


American Galen Rupp, runner-up in Boston last year, also returns. Fellow American Shadrack Biwott and Kenyan Wilson Chebet are additional top finishers returning to seek the title.

Among those making their Boston debuts are several Kenyan men who ran their personal best times in 2017. Nobert Kipkoech Kigen finished fourth in Seoul and runner-up in Amsterdam. Evans Kiplagat Chebet was fourth in Tokyo and second in Valencia. Felix Kipchirchir Kandie was second in Seoul and fourth in Berlin. Philemon Rono Cherop won the Toronto Marathon.

Returning to Boston is Stephen Sambu of Kenya, the fifth-place finisher at last year’s Chicago Marathon. Also joining the international field is Dutch Olympian Abdi Nageeye, who set a national marathon record this past year, and Canadian Olympians Reid Coolsaet and Eric Gillis.

Added to the US elite field are Elkanah Kibet, the top American at the 2017 World Championships Marathon and Timothy Ritchie, the 2017 US National Marathon Champion. They join Rupp, Biwott and the previously announced US Elite Team of Dathan Ritzenhein, Abdi Abdirahman, Ryan Vail, Scott Smith and Andrew Bumbalough.

German national marathon record holder Arne Gabius is in the field, as is South African Olympian Lusapho April and Japanese elites Yuki Kawauchi and Kentaro Nakamoto.


On the women’s side, Edna Kiplagat of Kenya is back to defend her crown. Bahrain’s Eunice Jepkirui Kirwa, the 2016 Olympic Marathon silver medalist, and Ethiopia’s Aselefech Mergia, a London champion and three-time winner of Dubai, will look to challenge Kiplagat.

The trio will be joined by 2014 Boston Marathon champion and course record holder Buzunesh Deba, of Ethiopia, and countrywoman Mamitu Daska, a two-time winner of Frankfurt who has also claimed victories in Dubai and Houston.

Caroline Rotich, who won the 2015 Boston Marathon, returns and is joined by countrywoman Gladys Chesir, who makes her Boston debut after finishing runner-up in Amsterdam last year.

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National marathon record holders Kellys Arias of Colombia and Madai Perez of Mexico will be in the mix, as will Krista DuChene, the second fastest Canadian marathoner in history. Jessica Augusto of Portugal and Jessica Draskau-Peterssonof Denmark – both Olympians – will make their Boston Marathon debuts.

The previously announced US team includes four of the five fastest US marathon women of all time: Deena Kastor, Jordan Hasay, Shalane Flanagan and Desiree Linden. Kastor, the national record holder, is a London and Chicago champion and earned the bronze medal at the 2004 Olympic Marathon. Hasay finished third in both Boston and Chicago last year. Flanagan recently won the TCS New York City Marathon. Linden has finished in the top five in seven Abbott World Marathon Majors and missed winning Boston by just two seconds in 2011.

Joining the US Team are Molly Huddle, who has more than 20 national titles; Serena Burla, who finished 10th and 11th at the 2015 and 2017 IAAF World Championships Marathon, respectively; Sara Hall, the 2017 US. National Marathon Champion; and Kellyn Taylor, who won a 2015 Pan American bronze medal in the 5,000 meter.