Wednesday December 16th, 2015

Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia and Caroline Rotich of Kenya will attempt to defend their titles at the 120th running of the Boston Marathon on April 18, race organizers announced on Wednesday.

Desisa, 25, won his second Boston Marathon title in three years with his 2:09:17 performance in April’s race. He also won the 2013 title before twin bombings claimed the lives of three people and injured more than 120 others. After the terrorist attack, he gave his champion’s medal back to the city of Boston.

“I am so happy to return to Boston in 2016 to try to make history as a three-time champion of the world’s most historic race and to do my best to represent Ethiopian running on the global stage,” Desisa said in a press release. “Boston has become more than a race to me; the city and its people are special and my wins in Boston are the most important moments in my athletic career. I am dreaming of crossing the finish line first for the third time.”

Desisa also clocked the seventh fastest marathon of 2015 with his 2:05:52 runner-up finish at the Dubai Marathon in January. He is the second-fastest Ethiopian marathoner of 2015, which could bode well for his chances of representing his country at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Desisa looks to become the ninth man to win the Boston Marathon three times and the first since Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot won his third of four titles in 2007.

Rotich surprised many with her victory in April as she claimed her first major marathon title in 2:24:55 over a field that included two runners with personal bests under 2:20. Coming into Boston, she had never finished any better than fourth place at a major marathon. She finished 10th at last month’s New York City Marathon with a 2:33:19 performance.

Deena Kastor to race 2016 Olympic Trials Marathon

Rotich looks to become the first woman to win back-to-back Boston Marathon titles since Catherine Ndereba accomplished the feat in 2004 and 2005. Rita Jeptoo won the 2013 and 2014 Boston Marathon titles before testing positive for EPO and being handed a two-year doping ban.

Watch the Desisa and Rotich announcement below:

Desisa and Rotich are the first two elites announced for the upcoming Boston Marathon. The American field will most likely be determined after the 2016 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in February.

- Christopher Chavez

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.