No U.S. man has won the Boston Marathon since 1983, more than twice the previous longest drought in the race’s history dating to 1897. That skid will likely stay intact this year, even though the two preeminent Americans of the last several years are in the field.
Another streak is also expected to extend with Monday’s race. A Kenyan or Ethiopian has won the last 12 Boston Marathons and all but one since 1991.
Marathons can be fickle, but two men appear to be the class of the elite field of 21 — defending champion Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia and Dennis Kimetto of Kenya.
Desisa, 24, has run three marathons in his life, all in 2013. He won Dubai that January, debuting in 2 hours, 4 minutes, 45 seconds. He won Boston in April. He finished second at the World Championships in Moscow in August.
Kimetto, 30, is perhaps best known for finishing one second behind fellow Kenyan and training partner Geoffrey Mutai at the 2012 Berlin Marathon, which caused controversy. But he would surprise nobody by winning Monday.
Like Desisa, the former full-time farmer Kimetto has also run three career marathons, winning two. He broke course records in Chicago and Tokyo in 2013 after setting the fastest marathon debut ever in Berlin in 2012. Kimetto’s personal best, from Chicago, is one minute faster than Desisa’s best.
There are more East Africans who can contend, but let’s shift to the American stars.
Ryan Hall is the fastest American-born marathoner of all time, but he hasn’t completed a 26.2-mile race since the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials.
Hall, 31, failed to finish the London Olympic marathon due to a hamstring injury and then signed up for and pulled out of the 2013 Boston Marathon and the last two New York City Marathons (nixing 2012 before Hurricane Sandy canceled it).
He was a late addition to this year’s Boston Marathon field, on March 3, suggesting he’s confidently overcome the injury struggles. He finished third, fourth and fourth in Boston from 2009-11, but given his lengthy absence it’s hard to gauge exactly what he’s capable of Monday.
Meb Keflezighi, 38, is one of only two in the elite field born in the 1970s and is the oldest by three years. The Eritrean-born American notched résumé builders every few years, from 2004 Olympic silver to winning New York in 2009 to fourth at the 2012 Olympics after setting a personal best at trials.
In 2013, he pulled out of Boston 10 days before the race due to a calf injury. He clocked a disappointing 2:23:47 for 23rd place in New York seven months later, though a muscle tear in his leg hampered preparation.
Keflezighi could use a strong performance Monday to fend off questions about his age and future.
Full men’s elite field:
|Name||Personal Best Time||Country|
|Dennis Kimetto||2:03:45 (Chicago 2013) CR||Kenya|
|Lelisa Desisa||2:04:45 (Dubai, 2013)||Ethiopia|
|Gebre Gebremariam||2:04:53 (Boston, 2011)||Ethiopia|
|Markos Geneti||2:04:54 (Dubai, 2012)||Ethiopia|
|Ryan Hall||2:04:58 (Boston, 2011)||U.S.|
|Wilson Chebet||2:05:27 (Rotterdam, 2011)||Kenya|
|Tilahun Regassa||2:05:27 (Chicago, 2012)||Ethiopia|
|Frankline Chepkwony||2:06:11 (Eindhoven, 2012)||Kenya|
|Micah Kogo||2:06:56 (Chicago, 2013)||Kenya|
|Adil Annani||2:07:43 (London, 2012)||Morocco|
|Paul Lonyangata||2:07:44 (Xiamen, 2013)||Kenya|
|Joel Kimurer||2:07:48 (Gongju, 2013)||Kenya|
|Lusapho April||2:08:32 (Hannover, 2013) CR||South Africa|
|Abdi Abdirahman||2:08:56 (Chicago, 2006)||U.S.|
|Meb Keflezighi||2:09:08 (Houston, 2012)||U.S.|
|Brett Gotcher||2:10:36 (Houston, 2010)||U.S.|
|Mathew Bowen||2:10:57 (Rennes, 2013)||Kenya|
|Jason Hartmann||2:11:06 (Chicago 2010)||U.S.|
|Nicholas Arciniaga||2:11:30 (Houston, 2011)||U.S.|
|Vitaliy Shafar||2:11:52 (Frankfurt, 2013)||Ukraine|
|Jeffrey Eggleston||2:12:03 (Chicago, 2012)||U.S.|