Just like last year, Galen Rupp’s quest to win the Boston Marathon will run through Geoffrey Kirui. The defending champion from Kenya headlines the international field that was announced on Thursday.
Kirui bested Rupp by 21 seconds last year to win the race. Four months later, Kirui took gold at the world championships, establishing himself as someone with staying power in the ever-changing marathon scene. But Rupp also appears to be better in 2018. After the runner-up finish in Boston, he won the Chicago Marathon — the first major championship victory of his career.
Joining Kirui in the international field are six men with personal bests faster than 2:06. Tamirat Tola of Ethiopia finished second to Kirui at the world championships and has run 2:04:11. Lelisa Desisa took third last fall in New York City and won the Boston Marathon in 2013 and 2015. Another Ethiopian, Lemi Berhanu, also should contend for the victory. Berhanu won Boston in 2016 and finished fourth in last year’s New York City Marathon.
The women’s international field is headlined by a decorated group of medalists and women with personal bests under 2:20. But there is plenty of room for the Americans — particularly the quartet of Shalane Flanagan, Jordan Hasay, Molly Huddle, and Desiree Linden — to get onto the podium and even win the race.
Defending champion Edna Kiplagat is the most experienced in the field and won in Boston last year. However, she finished behind Flanagan in New York City last fall. Aselefech Mergia and Buzenesh Deba both have run faster than 2:20 and have a pile of top-five finishes in major marathons.
Two other threats to win come from Eunice Kirwa and Mamitu Daska. Kirwa is the Olympic silver medalist from Rio and Daska was third in New York City in 2017.