A Boston Marathon women’s field for the ages on historic anniversary

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For the first time in many years, the Boston Marathon features the world’s top two female marathoners from the previous year. Perhaps the best Boston Marathon women’s field ever comes on the 50th anniversary of the first time women were officially allowed to race the world’s most historic 26.2-mile race.

Kenyans Peres Jepchirchir and Joyciline Jepkosgei headline the entries. Also running is arguably the top American today, Olympic bronze medalist Molly Seidel.

“I’ve gotten my ass kicked by Peres the two times that I’ve raced her,” Seidel told LetsRun.com on Friday. “Getting to be in a race with a huge amount of competition like that with women with incredible credentials, that fires me up like nothing else. A lot of it is, you just hang on for dear life and see what happens.”

London usually has the best fields of the spring marathons, but that race is being held in October for a third consecutive year due to the pandemic.

Boston, which was canceled in 2020 and held in October last year, returns to its usual Patriots’ Day date for the first time since 2019.

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It is this year’s spotlight spring marathon.

The race is an opportunity for Jepchirchir, who won the Olympics and the New York City Marathon last year, to consolidate her status as the world No. 1. Jepkosgei is right behind, winning London in the world’s fastest time of 2021 in her lone marathon of the year.

Another Kenyan, world-record holder Brigid Kosgei, is perhaps the only other woman in that very top tier. But she hasn’t raced Boston since becoming a star. Yet another Kenyan Mary Keitany, the retired queen of the 2010s, never raced Boston as she favored London.

So this year’s field is about as special as it gets for the world’s most historic marathon.

Another reason why is Seidel, who has an opportunity to shake up the marathon world.

She already mixed it up at majors, placing sixth in London in 2020, then third at the Olympics (within 30 seconds of Jepchirchir and Kosgei) and fourth in New York City last year (in the fastest time ever for an American woman on that course).

“It was a surprise for a lot of people that I won that medal,” said Seidel, who formerly supplemented her training as a barista and babysitter and is now working on an MBA and pilot’s license. “But honestly, that’s been something that’s always been a big goal of mine. My goals are pretty much the same [now], a podium spot at major marathons.”

Seidel’s performance will go a long way in determining the top U.S. marathoner of the moment.

Keira D’Amato broke the American record in Houston in January. Sara Hall made a major marathon podium each of the last two years.

But Seidel is the only one of the very best Americans racing Boston after Hall withdrew due to injury.

The story Monday could also be the return of Ethiopia. Its fastest woman of 2021, London runner-up Degitu Azimeraw, is also entered. Ethiopia, the longtime rival of Kenya for marathon supremacy, has one women’s title in the last six years among Boston, London, New York City, the world championships and Olympics.

Monday also marks the ninth Boston Marathon for Des Linden, the lone active woman left from the previous generation of top Americans.

In 2018, she ended a 33-year victory drought for U.S. female runners in Boston. At 38, she does not know how much longer she will do elite marathon racing.

“I’m watching the youngsters take over and push the sport forward, and sort of hanging on and, hopefully, having a moment here and there where I can compete with them,” Linden said.

ON HER TURF: A look at the 50th anniversary of official women’s division

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