2016 Boston Marathon winners Lemi Berhanu Hayle and Atsede Baysa (© Getty Images)
Ethiopia’s Atsede Baysa and Lemi Berhanu Hayle will each face a pair of former champions when they defend their titles at the Boston Marathon on 17 April.
Baysa will take on 2015 winner Caroline Rotich of Kenya and 2014 champion Buzunesh Deba of Ethiopia, while Berhanu will line up alongside 2014 winner Meb Keflezighi of the USA and 2012 victor Wesley Korir of Kenya.
This year Ethiopia swept the top podium spots for the first time in race history. Baysa overcame a 37-second deficit just before the 22nd mile to win in commanding style.
“I’ve run many marathons around the world and winning Boston was a memorable experience,” said the two-time Chicago Marathon champion. “I was inspired by the many talented women who have run this legendary race and I look forward to returning to the city of Boston again.”
In the men’s race, Berhanu and two-time champion Lelisa Desisa broke from a large lead pack at 16 miles and then led the race side by side for the next nine miles until Hayle put in a surge that Desisa couldn’t cover.
“Winning Boston has been the highlight of my career,” said Hayle. “Crossing the finish line first, after running so far with some of the best runners in the world, is a wonderful feeling. The fans along the way were incredible and I can’t wait to return to defend my title in April.”
Rotich returns after her dramatic 2015 win where she out-raced Ethiopians Mare Dibaba and Buzunesh Deba in the final mile. Deba will also return to Boston, having earned the 2014 Boston Marathon crown and course record (2:19:59) following the disqualification of Rita Jeptoo. During her record-setting race, Deba became the only woman in history to run faster than 2:20 on the course.
After participating in his fourth Olympics, Keflezighi is back to celebrate his final year of marathon racing and his fifth Boston Marathon. Having never finished outside of the top five in Boston, Korir also returns after winning in 2012 in one of the warmest Boston Marathons in race history.
“When six athletes who have so richly enhanced the history of the Boston Marathon are returning to compete again, it’s very exciting,” said BAA chief executive officer Tom Grilk. “These are some of the world’s finest runners, and we can’t wait to welcome them back.”
Organisers for the IAAF