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Nine Past Champions Headline 2019 Boston Marathon Professional Races

Quick thoughts and analysis of the 2019 Boston Marathon elite fields.

Boston Marathon organizers announced the complete men's and women's elite fields for the April 15 race. Des Linden, who last year became the first American woman to win Boston in 33 years, and Japan's Yuki Kawauchi will defend their titles.

The men's elite side includes 2017 champion Geoffrey Kirui, 2013 and 2015 champion Lelisa Desisa, 2016 champion Lemi Berhanu and 2012 champion Wesley Korir. Past women's open champions hail from Kenya including 2017 winner Edna Kiplagat, 2015 champion Caroline Rotich and 2012 champion Sharon Cherop.

Here are a few quick thoughts on the initial release:

Five Sub-2:05 Men Including Lelisa Desisa

Kenya's Lawrence Cherono boasts the fastest personal best of the field with his 2:04:06 win to defend his title at the Amsterdam Marathon in October. Four Ethiopian men, Sisay Lemma, Lemi Berhanu, Solomon Deksisa and Lelisa Desisa, join him as the five with personal bests under 2:05. Sometimes when looking at start lists, personal bests can be deceiving if they were set more than two years ago but Cherono, Lemma, Berhanu and Deksisa have all run their fastest times in the past 12 months. However, Lelisa Desisa is coming off a long-awaited win at the New York City Marathon. Desisa has won in Boston twice and finished second in 2016 so experience is on his side.

Geoffrey Kirui Out For Revenge

Kirui won the 2017 Boston Marathon in 2:09:37. For much of last year's race, it looked like a repeat was possible but Kirui faded hard in the cold and rainy conditions. He had a massive lead after the Newton Hills but started slowing around mile 24. He ran his 25th mile in 6:31 and then jogged to the finish line with a 7:18 final mile but still held onto second place. Kirui would have been the first man to successfully defend his title since Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot's triple from 2006 to 2008. He most recently finished sixth at the 2018 Chicago Marathon in 2:06:45.

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Where Does Yuki Stack Up?

To find last year's defending champion, you have to scroll to the 16th spot on the list. Yuki Kawauchi will certainly have his hands full if he looks to defend his title. Another maelstrom would certainly help his chances of winning by taking its toll on some of these other runners with much faster personal bests, which was the case in 2018. After the race in the rain, Kawauchi described it as "the best conditions possible" for him.

FIVE Sub-2:20 Women

The women's open division features four Ethiopian women and one Kenyan woman who have run under 2:20. However, not too many of those times have been recent. Asefelech Mergia of Ethiopia has the fastest personal best on paper with her 2:19:31 from the 2012 Dubai Marathon. Ethiopia's Mare Dibaba's 2:19:52 personal best is also from that same race. Worknesh Degefa's 2:19:53 from the 2018 Dubai Marathon is the fastest personal best set within the past two years. That's not to say that runners with old PRs should be ruled out. Kenya's Edna Kiplagat hasn't touched her 2:19:50 personal best in seven years but won the 2017 Boston Marathon at 37 years old. She turned 39 in November but remains among the world's best marathoners.

Most Intriguing American

Des Linden's title defense will certainly be among the top storylines heading into the race but keep your eyes on Sally Kipyego. This will mark her first major marathon as an American citizen. She ran 2:28:01 and finished second in her debut at the 2016 New York City Marathon. She has an Olympic silver medal on her resume from the 10,000 meters at the 2012 Olympics while representing Kenya. She was slated to run the 2018 New York City Marathon but was unable to recover from a bout with malaria and pneumonia. The list of 2020 U.S. Olympic marathon team contenders is loaded with tons of talented women and Kipyego could add her name with a strong showing.

However, as we learned last year, do not count out Des Linden...even if she has the ninth-fastest personal best of the field.

The full men's and women's elite field can be found below.

Men's Elite Field
Lawrence Cherono, Kenya, 2:04:06 (Amsterdam, 2018)
Sisay Lemma, Ethiopia, 2:04:08 (Dubai, 2018)
Lemi Berhanu, Ethiopia, 2:04:33 (Dubai, 2016)
Solomon Deksisa, Ethiopia, 2:04:40 (Amsterdam, 2018)
Lelisa Desisa, Ethiopia, 2:04:45 (Dubai, 2013)
Kenneth Kipkemoi, Kenya, 2:05:44 (Rotterdam, 2018)
Felix Kandie, Kenya, 2:06:03 (Seoul, 2017)
Geoffrey Kirui, Kenya, 2:06:27 (Amsterdam, 2016)
Festus Talam, Kenya, 2:06:13 (Eindhoven, 2017)
Wesley Korir, Kenya, 2:06:13 (Chicago, 2012)
Philemon Rono, Kenya, 2:06:52 (Toronto, 2017)
Hiroto Inoue, Japan, 2:06:54 (Tokyo, 2018)
Benson Kipruto, Kenya, 2:07:11 (Seoul, 2018)
Ghirmay Ghebreslassie, Eritrea, 2:07:46 (London, 2016)
Dathan Ritzenhein, USA, 2:07:47 (Chicago, 2012)
Yuki Kawauchi, Japan, 2:08:14 (Seoul, 2013)
Zersenay Tadese, Eritrea, 2:08:46 (Berlin, 2018)
Abdi Abdirahman (40+), USA, 2:08:56 (Chicago, 2006)
Mohamed Reda El Aaraby, Morocco, 2:09:16 (Chicago, 2018)
Hayato Sonoda, Japan, 2:09:34 (Oita, 2018)
Scott Overall, Great Britain, 2:10:55 (Berlin, 2011)
Jeffrey Eggleston, USA, 2:10:52 (Gold Coast, 2014)
Jared Ward, USA, 2:11:30 (Rio de Janeiro, 2016)
Elkanah Kibet, USA, 2:11:31 (Chicago, 2015)
Timothy Ritchie, USA, 2:11:56 (Sacramento, 2017)
Shadrack Biwott, USA, 2:12:01 (New York City, 2016)
Scott Fauble, USA, 2:12:28 (New York City, 2018)
Aaron Braun, USA, 2:12:54 (Houston, 2015)
Brian Shrader, USA, 2:13:31 (Sacramento, 2018)

Women's Elite Field
Aselefech Mergia, Ethiopia, 2:19:31 (Dubai, 2012)
Edna Kiplagat, Kenya, 2:19:50 (London, 2012)
Mare Dibaba, Ethiopia, 2:19:52 (Dubai, 2012)
Worknesh Degefa, Ethiopia, 2:19:53 (Dubai, 2018)
Meskerem Assefa, Ethiopia, 2:20:36 (Frankfurt, 2018)
Jordan Hasay, USA, 2:20:57 (Chicago, 2017)
Belaynesh Oljira, Ethiopia, 2:21:53 (Frankfurt, 2018)
Sharon Cherop, Kenya, 2:22:28 (Berlin, 2013)
Desiree Linden, USA, 2:22:38 (Boston, 2011)
Marta Megra, Ethiopia, 2:22:35 (Toronto, 2018)
Betsy Saina, Kenya, 2:22:56 (Paris, 2018)
Caroline Rotich, Kenya, 2:23:22 (Chicago, 2012)
Sara Hall, USA, 2:26:20 (Ottawa, 2018)
Eva Vrabcova, Czech Republic, 2:26:31 (Berlin, 2018) NR
Sally Kipyego, USA, 2:28:01 (New York City, 2016)
Krista Duchene, Canada, 2:28:32 (Toronto, 2013)
Alyson Dixon, Great Britain, 2:29:06 (London, 2017)
Lindsay Flanagan, USA, 2:29:25 (Frankfurt, 2018)
Becky Wade, USA, 2:30:41 (Sacramento, 2013)
Sarah Crouch, USA, 2:32:27 (Chicago, 2018)
Sarah Sellers, USA, 2:36:37 (New York City, 2018)
Mary Wacera, Kenya, 66:29 (Houston, 2016)