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

Penny Oleksiak edges Simone Manuel, Regan Smith sizzles again in Knoxville

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Penny Oleksiak and Simone Manuel nearly duplicated their Olympic gold-medal tie. The Canadian Oleksiak edged Manuel by .03 in the 100m freestyle at a Tyr Pro Series stop in Knoxville, Tenn., on Sunday night.

Oleksiak clocked 53.41 seconds, coming back from .37 behind Manuel at the 50-meter mark. The two tied for the Rio Olympic title in an Olympic record 52.70 seconds four years ago. Oleksiak was the surprise, a 16-year-old who came into the Games ranked eighth in the world for the year.

Since, Manuel swept the 2017 and 2019 World titles. Oleksiak was sixth at 2017 Worlds and withdrew before the 100m free at 2019 Worlds. She ranked 21st in the world last year. Oleksiak’s time Sunday was her fastest since 2017.

Full Knoxville meet results are here. The Pro Series’ next stop is Des Moines from March 4-7.

In other events Sunday, world-record holder Regan Smith won the 200m backstroke in 2:05.94, the fastest time ever outside of a national championships or major international meet. Smith, 17, achieved the same feat on Saturday in the 100m back, where she also broke the world record at last summer’s worlds.

Madisyn Cox won a matchup of the three fastest U.S. women in the 200m individual medley in 2019. She clocked 2:09.88, beating Alex Walsh by a half-second and Melanie Margalis by .54.

It was Cox’s fastest time since she took bronze at the 2017 World Championships. She missed the 2019 Worlds after failing a 2018 drug test over what she said was a contaminated multivitamin.

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Mikaela Shiffrin among favorites eliminated early in parallel giant slalom

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Mikaela Shiffrin was upset in the round of 16 of the first World Cup parallel giant slalom by unheralded Frenchwoman Clara Direz, who went on to earn her first win on Sunday.

Shiffrin had the fastest qualifying time but was bounced in the second round of head-to-head racing in Sestriere by Direz. Direz, 24, came into the day with a best career finish of seventh.

Direz was 16th-fastest in qualifying, 1.02 seconds behind Shiffrin combining times from two runs. Direz edged Shiffrin by .13 in their head-to-head run. Shiffrin appeared to be at a disadvantage being put on the red course, which produced just three winners among 20 one-run matchups.

“It is fun; I think I like the parallel GS actually more than the parallel slalom, but it’s a little bit difficult,” Shiffrin said. “I think there’s still a lot of work we have to do, and FIS [the International Ski Federation] has to do to really make the race as even as it can be because for sure you can see, there’s always a faster course. But today it’s like they’re not even the same course at all. Especially in the last four, five gates on the blue course, you can even see just looking up the hill that it’s straighter than the red course.

“Today I would say it’s a day where the luck [of which course you draw randomly] really plays a role.”

Direz eventually beat Austrian Elisa Moerzinger in the final. Direz was on the blue course for three of her four one-run rounds. Full results are here.

Higher-ranked racers used to be have their choice of courses in the parallel format.

“Maybe that wasn’t fair, either, but I think there must be a way to make it something that is more even, but at the same time, yeah, I don’t really have the answers on how to do that, either,” Shiffrin said. “It’s still in its infancy, this event.”

Shiffrin has a track record of success in parallel slaloms and similar city events, winning five of her last six starts. But the parallel GS proved problematic for the world’s best in slalom.

Swiss Wendy Holdener and Slovakian Petra Vlhova were also eliminated before the quarterfinals after being second- and third-fastest in qualifying. Holdener was also on the red course. Vlhova lost in the round of 32, when skiers were taking runs on both the blue and red courses.

Sestriere marked the last weekend of technical races (slaloms/giant slaloms) until mid-February. The next three weekends feature downhills and super-Gs. Shiffrin is expected to travel to Bansko, Bulgaria, for the first set on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

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