New York (AFP) – Reigning Chicago Marathon champion Galen Rupp and a host of top US women’s contenders could produce the first American title sweep in 35 years at Monday’s 122nd Boston Marathon.
Not since Joan Benoit and Greg Meyer took the crowns in 1983 have Americans taken both the women’s and men’s titles in the famed 26.2-mile showdown over the streets of Boston.
The feat will require the dethroning of two defending champions from Kenya — Geoffrey Kirui, whose 2017 winning time of 2hrs 9min 37sec was 21 seconds ahead of runner-up Rupp, and Edna Kiplagat, who cruised to last year’s crown.
The women’s field features American contenders Molly Huddle, Jordan Hasay, Desiree Linden and reigning New York City Marathon champion Shalane Flanagan.
No US woman has won the Boston crown since Lisa Larsen Weidenbach in 1985, although Linden was second in 2011 and Hasay took third last year in her marathon debut as well as in Chicago.
Huddle has been a success at shorter distances, although her only marathon result was a third-place finish at New York in 2016.
Flanagan, 36, missed last year’s race with an injury but won at New York with extra rest. It could be the final race for the Massachusetts native.
Kiplagat, 37, pulled away with more than five miles remaining last year to win at Boston in 2:21:52. She was also second to Rose Chelimo in the World Track and Field Championships marathon and fourth in New York.
The two-time world champion has also won at London in 2014 and New York in 2010.
Kirui is trying to become the first back-to-back men’s winner at Boston since compatriot Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot in 2006-2008. It hadn’t been done before him since 1995.
The Kirui-Rupp rematch figures to be a great one on the men’s side. Rupp took a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics then followed his Boston debut runner-up effort with a Chicago victory.
Kirui also won the world marathon crown with Ethiopia’s Tamirat Tola second and boasting a 2:04:06 clocking from Dubai in January, where he was third.
Ethiopians Lelisa Desisa, the 2013 and 2015 Boston champion, and Lemi Berhanu, the 2016 Boston winner, could also threaten for the title.
The women’s field lacks Kenyan star Mary Keitany and Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba, who will race in the London Marathon on April 22.
In the hunt will be past Boston winners Buzunesh Deba of Ethiopia and Caroline Rotich of Kenya.