•Kiplagat boasts the second-fastest PB in the field (a 2:19:50 from London in 2012
•Yuki Kawauchi, winner of the 2018 Boston Marathon, himself as a sumo wrestler is unlikely to be underestimated again.
Kenya’s two-time world champion Edna Kiplagat’s experience in winning championship-style races will be her major strength as she takes on defending champion Desiree Linden in today’s Boston Marathon.
Though Kiplagat boasts the second-fastest PB in the field (a 2:19:50 from London in 2012), she also has two World Championship victories (2011 and 2013) under her belt. Linden has asserted that she’s stronger and better-prepared this year than she was in 2018 when victory came from being the only athlete among the leaders not crushed under the conditions.
Linden’s win came after a lengthy series of top-10 finishes in Boston, most notably a second place in 2011 race where she contended for the win up to the last few metres of the race. Among the top women, few have Linden’s accumulated experience with the Boston course. She is the only one whose PB came in Boston (2:22:38, from 2011).
While Kiplagat and Linden play the wily veterans, it’s less simple to compare the others. Boston’s 2015 and 2012 winners (Caroline Rotich and Sharon Cherop, respectively) are returning to Hopkinton for another try, but without the kind of recent performances, they had before their victories. Aselefech Mergia, Mare Dibaba and Worknesh Degefa all have sub-2:20 PBs from Dubai.
Degefa’s PB of 2:17:41—the fastest non-winning women’s marathon ever—came just this past January, so the question she raises is not so much how fast she might be, but whether she can bottle that particular lightning again so soon.
Most of these athletes exist at the opposite end of the athletic spectrum from sumo wrestlers, but today the best of them will follow some of the same basic patterns: keep your balance and don’t get too far ahead of your feet. But if you can draw your opponents into overbalancing, it won’t matter how fast their PB was.
In the men’s cadre, Yuki Kawauchi, winner of the 2018 Boston Marathon, himself as a sumo wrestler might not have the same levers at his disposal this year, but he is unlikely to be underestimated again.
Geoffrey Kirui, the 2017 Boston and world champion, and Lelisa Desisa, last fall’s New York City champion and 2013 and 2015 Boston winner, have both demonstrated the tactics to win a marathon run.
Wesley Korir has not shown his 2012 form more recently, but like Kawauchi he won on a day when hot conditions took many runners out of their comfort zone, much like Lemi Berhanu did in 2016. Lawrence Cherono, who ran 2:04:06 in Amsterdam last year, and Sisay Lemma, whose 2:04:08 came from Dubai will be the other athletes to watch.
Cherono also has a course-record win from Honolulu, another race which has historically been a good indicator for Boston success. However, Dubai winners have also done curiously done well in Boston, considering the two races couldn’t be much more different.