Lelisa Desisa

Boston Marathon men’s preview

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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.

Boston Marathon TV, race schedules | Women’s Preview: American hope

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.

Four-time Olympic medalist returns to run Boston Marathon again

Race against Usain Bolt’s world record with ‘BeatBot’ (video)

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Puma has introduced the “BeatBot,” a self-driving, line-following robot that runners can program to move at a specific pace around a track.

That means one could race against a robot-version of Usain Bolt‘s 100m world record of 9.58 seconds, with BeatBot’s top speed at just over 27 miles per hour.

The BeatBot can also navigate track curves, as shown in the video above.

Puma plans to roll out BeatBot to various track programs around the world over the year.

MORE: Bolt, Ashton Eaton set for showdown

How to watch Penn Relays, Drake Relays on NBC Sports

Justin Gatlin
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Several U.S. Olympic champions highlight the Penn Relays and Drake Relays fields, live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra on Saturday.

At the Penn Relays in Philadelphia, the U.S. 4x100m, 4x200m and 4x400m pools include:

Justin Gatlin: 2004 Olympic 100m champ
Tyson Gay: Olympic 100m, fourth place
Carmelita Jeter: Olympic 100m silver medalist
Jeremy Wariner: 2004 Olympic 400m champ
Sanya Richards-Ross: Olympic 400m champ

Also competing will be two-time Olympic 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, 2008 Olympic 100m silver medalist Kerron Stewart and 2015 World 200m silver medalist Elaine Thompson for Team Jamaica.

STREAM: Penn Relays: 12:30-3 p.m. ET

Next is the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa, including:

  • 2008 Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt versus 2012 Olympic champion Kirani James in the 400m
  • World Indoor champion Vashti Cunningham in the high jump. Cunningham, 18, is the daughter of retired NFL Pro Bowl quarterback Randall Cunningham.
  • 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper-Nelson versus 2013 World champion Brianna Rollins in the 100m hurdles.

STREAM: Drake Relays: 3-5 p.m. ET

MORE: Full NBC Olympic trials broadcast schedule