London and Boston to Showcase the Spring Marathon Season

By Jörg Wenig
Boston has an impressive elite field this year. © www.PhotoRun.net
Boston has an impressive elite field this year. © www.PhotoRun.net

Fans of international distance running are in for a real treat this April—a month packed with a series of thrilling races set to unwind over the classic 26.2-mile marathon distance. London and Boston should provide highlights, but contests in Paris, Hamburg, Rotterdam, Vienna and Hanover offer fabulous elite fields as well. An incredible 200,000 runners of all abilities have registered for these seven races alone, and they will be cheered on by several million spectators.

The man currently regarded as the world’s top marathoner, Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya, will test himself against a group of world-class runners in London in what could very well be a dress-rehearsal for this summer’s Olympic Games. Among his challengers is Ethiopia’s top marathoner, Kenenisa Bekele. Germany’s newest marathon star, Arne Gabius, will also be running in London. Boston has a half-dozen men who can boast sub-2:05 times.

Four athletes from the KIMbia group coached by Dieter Hogen, which has long been associated with Take The Magic Step, will race Rotterdam and Vienna in April. For many leading runners these races in the coming weeks will take on the added importance of being qualifiers for their countries’ teams for the Olympic marathon in Rio in August.

Take The Magic Step presents this annual preview of April’s “magnificent seven.”

Boston on April 18

Uta will run again the B.A.A. 5K. © www.PhotoRun.net
Uta will run again the B.A.A. 5K. © www.PhotoRun.net

Simply put, Boston is the quintessential classic spring marathon. More than 30,000 runners will line up for the 120th edition of the point-to-point race that starts in Hopkinton and finishes in Boston. The elite field shows an extraordinary strength: no fewer than ten men have personal best times under 2:06 and there are a dozen women who have run faster than 2:25. The course-record holder, Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya, whose best is 2:03:02, will face the defending champion, Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia. The women’s field includes last year’s winner, Caroline Rotich of Kenya as well as the Olympic champion, Tiki Gelana of Ethiopia.

Uta will also be participating in the many events held in conjunction with the marathon. Twenty years ago she won the 100th Boston Marathon and is delighted to be able to celebrate that famous anniversary in “Beantown.” You can read more about her Boston schedule here.

Course Records:
2:03:02 Geoffrey Mutai (KEN/2011)
2:18:57 Rita Jeptoo (KEN/2014)

Elite Athletes and their Best Times:
Men: Geoffrey Mutai (KEN/2:03:02), Sammy Kitwara (KEN/2:04:28), Tsegaye Mekonnen (ETH/2:04:32), Lelisa Desisa (ETH/2:04:45), Yemane Adhane Tsegay (ETH/2:04:48), Getu Feleke (ETH/2:04:50), Wilson Chebet (KEN/2:05:27), Hayle Lemi Berhanu (ETH/2:05:28), Stephen Chebogut (KEN/2:05:52), Deribe Robi (ETH/2:05:58), Wesley Korir (KEN/2:06:13), Michael Kipyego (KEN/2:06:48), Paul Lonyangata (KEN/2:07:14), Jackson Kiprop (UGA/2:09:32), Cuthbert Nyasango (ZIM/2:09:52).
Women: Tiki Gelana (ETH/2:18:58), Buzunesh Deba (ETH/2:19:59), Tirfi Tsegaye (ETH/2:20:18), Mamitu Daska (ETH/2:21:59), Atsede Baysa (ETH/2:22:03), Flomena Cheyech Daniel (KEN/2:22:44), Tadelech Bekele (ETH/2:22:51), Jelena Prokopcuka (LAT/2:22:56), Valentine Kipketer (KEN/2:23:02), Caroline Rotich (KEN/2:23:22), Joyce Chepkirui (KEN/2:24:11), Fatuma Sado (ETH/2:24:16), Purity Cherotich Rionoripo (KEN/2:25:09), Fate Tola (ETH/2:25:14), Lamei Sun (CHN/2:27:55).

London on April 24

The three-way rivalry continues: last year Eliud Kipchoge won in London ahead of his Kenyan compatriots Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto. © Virgin Money London Marathon
The three-way rivalry continues: last year Eliud Kipchoge won in London ahead of his Kenyan compatriots Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto. © Virgin Money London Marathon

Almost a quarter of a million runners applied to run in London, a reflection of the massive popularity of a race that is also a charity fund-raising champion. Last year’s winner, Eliud Kipchoge from Kenya will race against his heralded compatriots—the world-record holder, Dennis Kimetto, and the two-time London winner and former world-record holder, Wilson Kipsang. Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia will be running London for the first time after a 15-month injury hiatus. The race will be the Olympic qualifier for the top Kenyan and Ethiopian runners. And it will be fascinating to see what Germany’s Arne Gabius, who set a national record of 2:08:33 in Frankfurt last October, can achieve in this field. You can read more about Arne and his preparations for London here.

The women’s line-up has last year’s surprise winner, Tigist Tufa of Ethiopia, renewing her battle with the double-London winner, Mary Keitany, as well as two of Mary’s Kenyan fellow countrywomen: the Berlin Marathon champion Gladys Cherono and the world half-marathon-record holder Florence Kiplagat.

Course Records:
2:04:29 Wilson Kipsang (KEN/2014)
2:15:25 Paula Radcliffe (GRB/2003/WR)

Elite Athletes and their Best Times:
Men: Dennis Kimetto (KEN/2:02:57), Wilson Kipsang (KEN/2:03:23), Eliud Kipchoge (KEN/2:04:00), Stanley Biwott (KEN/2:04:55), Kenenisa Bekele (ETH/2:05:04), Tilahun Regassa (ETH/2:05:27), Abera Kuma (ETH/2:05:56), Samuel Tsegay (ERI/2:07:28), Ghirmay Ghebreslassie (ERI/2:07:47), Amanuel Mesel (ERI/2:08:17), Serhiy Lebid (UKR/2:08:32), Arne Gabius (GER/2:08:33), Tewelde Estifanos (ERI/2:09:16), Ghebrezgiabhier Kibrom (ERI/2:09:36), Vitaliy Shafar (UKR/2:09:58), Bedan Karoki (KEN/Debut).
Women: Mary Keitany (KEN/2:18:37), Gladys Cherono (KEN/2:19:25), Aselefech Mergia (ETH/2:19:31), Florence Kiplagat (KEN/2:19:44), Mare Dibaba (ETH/2:19:52), Priscah Jeptoo (KEN/2:20:14), Feyse Tadese (ETH/2:20:27), Jemima Sumgong (KEN/2:20:41), Tigist Tufa (ETH/2:21:52), Jessica Augusto (POR/2:24:25), Volha Mazuronak (BLR/2:25:36), Rkia El Moukim (MAR/2:26:33), Diana Lobacevske (LTU/2:28:03), Sonia Samuels (GBR/2:28:04), Freya Ross (GBR/2:28:10).

Paris on April 3

Paris marks the start of the major spring marathons. © Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris
Paris marks the start of the major spring marathons. © Schneider Electric Marathon de Paris

With 57,000 runners, the Paris Marathon is the biggest of the spring races. Only New York, in the fall, is likely to attract greater numbers this year. In the ninth edition of the Paris Marathon nine men will line up with best times below 2:07 and they include last year’s winner Mark Korir of Kenya. Also returning to defend her title is the women’s champion, Meseret Mengistu of Ethiopia.

Course Records:
2:05:04 Kenenisa Bekele (ETH/2014)
2:21:06 Feyse Tadese (ETH/2013)

Elite Athletes and their Best Times:
Men: Bernard Koech (KEN/2:04:53), Mark Korir (KEN/2:05:49), Laban Korir (KEN/2:06:05), Abraham Feleke (ETH/2:06:13), Seboka Tola (ETH/2:06:17), Stephen Chemlany (KEN/2:06:24), Alfers Lagat (KEN/2:06:48), Micah Kogo (KEN/2:06:56), Felix Kiprotich (KEN/2:06:59), Luka Kanda (KEN/2:07:20), Elijah Kemboi (KEN/2:07:34), Robert Kwambai (KEN/2:08:18), Beraki Beyene (ERI/2:08:27), Cyprian Kotut (KEN/2:08:55), Jackson Limo (KEN/2:09:06), Wilfried Murgor (KEN/2:09:37).
Women: Georgina Rono (KEN/2:21:39), Meseret Mengistu (ETH/2:23:26), Visiline Jepkesho (KEN/2:24:44), Rebecca Chesir Kangogo (KEN/2:25:22), Martha Komu (FRA/2:25:33), Fatna Maraoui (ITA/2:30:50).

Rotterdam on April 10

KIMbia’s Lani Rutto could surprise the field in Rotterdam. © www.PhotoRun.net
KIMbia’s Lani Rutto could surprise the field in Rotterdam. © www.PhotoRun.net

All eyes this year will be on the elite men’s field in Rotterdam. Seven athletes have personal bests under 2:07 and they include the fastest, Tsegaye Kebede of Ethiopia with a 2:04:35. KIMbia’s Lani Rutto and Allan Kiprono will be running, and have completed their race preparations at home in Kenya.

Course Records:
2:04:27 Duncan Kibet (KEN/2009), James Kwambai (KEN/2009)
2:18:58 Tiki Gelana (ETH/2012)

Elite Athletes and their Best Times:
Men: Tsegaye Kebede (ETH/2:04:35), Vincent Kipruto (KEN/2:05:13), Bazu Worku (ETH/2:05:25), John Mwangangi (KEN/2:06:13), Matthew Kisorio (KEN/2:06:33), Lani Rutto (KEN/2:06:34), Abayneh Ayele (ETH/2:06:45), Allan Kiprono (KEN/2:09:38).
Women: Miranda Boonstra (NED/2:27:32)—other runners still to be announced.

Vienna on April 10

Each year, Austria’s largest sports event offers a true festival of running. With the motto “Run Vienna—Enjoy Classics” the event connects running with the cultural and tourist highlights of the city of Vienna. Kenya’s Levy Omari is looking to achieve a fast time in Vienna while KIMbia is sending Suleiman Simotwo and Raymond Choge. The organizers are hoping for a new women’s course record, with Guteni Shone of Ethiopia a favorite.

Runners in Vienna will pass many interesting tourist sights, including Schloss Schönbrunn. © www.PhotoRun.net
Runners in Vienna will pass many interesting tourist sights, including Schloss Schönbrunn. © www.PhotoRun.net

Course Records:
2:05:41 Getu Feleke (ETH/2014)
2:23:47 Maura Viceconte (ITA/2000)

Elite Athletes and their Best Times:
Men: Levy Omari (KEN/2:05:16), Robert Chemosin (KEN/2:08:05), Suleiman Simotwo (KEN/2:08:49), David Kogei (KEN/Debut), Raymond Choge (KEN/Debut)—other runners still to be announced.
Women: Guteni Shone (ETH/2:23:32), Helaria Johannes (NAM/2:26:09), Fantu Jimma (KEN/2:26:14), Meseret Kitata (ETH/2:27:27), Shuko Genemo (ETH/2:27:29), Jia Chaofeng (CHN/2:27:40), Doris Changeywo (KEN/2:44:26), Ruti Aga (ETH/Debut).

Hanover on April 10

Anna Hahner, the 2014 Vienna Marathon champion, will start in Hanover this year. © www.PhotoRun.net
Anna Hahner, the 2014 Vienna Marathon champion, will start in Hanover this year. © www.PhotoRun.net

The course-record holder and double winner in Hanover, Lusapho April, one of South Africa’s leading marathoners, makes his return, and among his opponents will be the defending champion, Cheshari Jacob of Kenya. In the women’s race, Germany’s Anna Hahner is hoping to run substantially under the Olympic-qualifying standard for Rio while her sister Lisa will participate in the race as well. Lisa ran the standard in Frankfurt in October.

Course Records:
2:08:32 Lusapho April (RSA/2013)
2:27:07 Olena Burkovska (UKR/2013)

Elite Athletes and their Best Times:
Men: Philipp Kimutai (KEN/2:06:07), Cheshari Jacob (KEN/2:07:46), Duncan Koech (KEN/2:07:53), Lusapho April (RSA/2:08:32), Martin Kosgey (KEN/2:09:50), Moses Masai (KEN/2:10:36)—other runners still to be announced.
Women: Anna Hahner (GER/2:26:44), Tizita Terecha Dida (ETH/2:28:02), Edinah Kwambai (KEN/2:29:35)—other runners still to be announced.

Hamburg on April 17

The objective for many of the elite athletes in Germany’s biggest spring marathon will be to meet their respective national qualifying times for the Olympics. Making a return is Shumi Dechasa of Bahrain, the 2014 winner, as is last year’s women’s champion Meseret Hailu of Ethiopia. Julian Flügel of Germany will be looking to make further improvement to strengthen his Olympic claims, while Anja Scherl also aims to run the qualifying time for Rio.

Meseret Hailu aims to retain her title in Hamburg and break the course record. © Haspa Marathon Hamburg
Meseret Hailu aims to retain her title in Hamburg and break the course record. © Haspa Marathon Hamburg

Course Records:
2:05:30 Eliud Kipchoge (KEN/2013)
2:24:12 Netsanet Abeyo (ETH/2012)

Elite Athletes and their Best Times:
Men: Tadesse Tola (ETH/2:04:49), Feyisa Bekele (ETH/2:06:26), Shumi Dechasa (BRN/2:06:43), Hendrick Ramaala (RSA/2:06:55), Philemon Rono (KEN/2:07:07), Ezekiel Chebii (KEN/2:07:18), Julian Flügel (GER/2:13:57), Moses Kipsiro (UGA/Debut), Nicholas Bor (KEN/Debut).
Women: Meseret Hailu (ETH/2:21:09), Maida Perez (MEX/2:22:59), Beata Naigambo (NAM/2:26:57), Filomena Costa (POR/2:28:00), Adriana da Silva (BRA/2:29:17), Monika Stefanowicz (POL/2:29:28), Mona Stockhecke (GER/2:33:50), Anja Scherl (GER/2:36:31).

The Best Results of All Time

Men:

 2:02:57 Hours  Dennis Kimetto  KEN  Berlin (GER)  09.28.2014
 2:03:13  Emmanuel Mutai  KEN  Berlin (GER)  09.28.2014
 2:03:23  Wilson Kipsang  KEN  Berlin (GER)  09.29.2013
 2:03:38  Patrick Makau  KEN  Berlin (GER)  09.25.2011
 2:03:42  Wilson Kipsang  KEN  Frankfurt (GER)  10.30.2011
 2:03:45  Dennis Kimetto  KEN  Chicago (USA)  10.13.2013
 2:03:52  Emmanuel Mutai  KEN  Chicago (USA)  10.13.2013
 2:03:59  Haile Gebrselassie  ETH  Berlin (GER)  09.28.2008
 2:04:00  Eluid Kipchoge  KEN  Berlin (GER)  09.27.2015
 2:04:05  Eluid Kipchoge  KEN  Berlin (GER)  29.09.2014

*Boston Marathon
Men:

 2:03:02 Hours  Geoffrey Mutai  KEN  Boston (USA)  04.18.2011
 2:03:06  Moses Mosop  KEN  Boston (USA)  04.18.2011

Women:

 2:15:25 Hours  Paula Radcliffe  GBR  London (GBR)  04.13.2003
 2:17:18  Paula Radcliffe  GBR  Chicago (USA)  10.13.2002
 2:17:42  Paula Radcliffe  GBR  London (GBR)  04.17.2005
 2:18:20  Liliya Shobukhova  RUS  Chicago (USA)  10.09.2011
 2:18:37  Mary Keitany  KEN  London (GBR)  04.22.2012
 2:18:47  Catherine Ndereba  KEN  Chicago (USA)  10.07.2001
 2:18:56  Paula Radcliffe  GBR  London (GBR)  04.14.2002
 2:18:58  Tiki Gelana  ETH  Rotterdam (NED)  04.15.2012
 2:19:12  Mizuki Noguchi  JPN  Berlin (GER)  09.25.2005
 2:19:19  Irina Mikitenko  GER  Berlin (GER)  09.28.2008

*Boston Marathon
Women:

 2:18:57 Hours  Rita Jeptoo  KEN  Boston (USA)  04.21.2014

The times set in the Boston Marathon cannot be recognized as official world records since the course does not meet the criteria (max. drop on one meter per kilometer, start and finish only permitted to be a max. 50% of the course distance apart).