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Des Linden, Yuki Kawauchi Will Return to 2019 Boston Marathon to Defend Titles

Last year's improbable Boston Marathon champions return to defend their titles.

2018 champions Des Linden and Yuki Kawauchi will return to defend their titles at the 123rd running of the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2019, race organizers announced on Monday morning.

Linden and Kawauchi were surprising and improbable winners in the women's and men's elite races under cold, rainy and windy weather conditions. Linden's 2:39:55 win ended a 33-year drought without a win by an American woman. No American woman has won back-to-back Boston Marathon titles since Sara Mae Berman's three-peat from 1970 to 1972.

Next year's race will mark her seventh career appearance in Boston. Most recently, Linden, 35, finished sixth at the 2018 New York City Marathon in 2:27:51.

"In 2007, I ran my first Boston Marathon; I absolutely fell in love with the event, the course, the city, all of it," Linden said in a press release. "I thought I had every experience imaginable racing in Boston, but in 2019 I'm thrilled and proud to have another first as I'll start the race as the defending Boston Marathon Champion. My 12 years of history in Boston have nothing on the 123 years of the event, but each year has made me love and appreciate it even more, and I can't imagine racing anywhere else in April."

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Kawauchi, 31, became the first Japanese winner since 1987. Kawauchi ran 11 marathons in 2018 with his fastest being a 2:11:46 at the Kitakyushu Marathon in Fukuoka, Japan in February. He holds the world record for the most sub-2:12 marathons with 26 in his career. His most recent marathon was a 2:12:03, 10th place finish at the Fukuoka International Marathon on Dec. 2.

Kawauchi serves as a government employee at Kuki High School (which is located in his hometown) but plans on leaving that job and focusing solely on running in 2019.

"I am pleased to be able to take part in the Boston Marathon again as the returning champion," Kawauchi said. "My victory in Boston was a moment in my marathon life that I will never forget. I look forward to meeting all my fellow runners in Boston and running together with them."

Organizers also announced wheelchair champions Tatyana McFadden and Marcel Hug will also return for next year's race.