Boston Marathon 2013: American Men Won't End 3-Decade Drought at Famous Race

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistApril 15, 2013

April 16, 2012; Newton, MA, USA; Jason Hartmann (USA) runs thorough water spray near the 19 mile marker during the 2012 Boston Marathon.  Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The last time an American man won the Boston Marathon, Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" was atop the Billboard charts, Jim Valvano's NC State team was fresh off of upsetting Houston's Phi Slama Jama for the college basketball national championship and Ghandi had just won the Academy Award for Best Picture.

That's right, folks, an American man hasn't won the Boston Marathon since 1983. To be fair, men from most of the countries in the world haven't won one since then either, as a Kenyan has won 20 of the past 29 Boston Marathons.

It's been a long drought for the host country's participants, and one that won't end this year.

Last year's winner, Wesley Korir, is in the field again this year. Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot has won this event five times and is in the field once more. And don't forget about Kenya's Micah Kogo, making his marathon debut. He earned the bronze at the 2012 Olympics in the 10,000 meters.

There is also a really strong field of Ethiopians to keep an eye on, namely Lelisa Desisa Benti and Gebre Gebremariam.

It's not just that traditional marathon powers in Kenya and Ethiopia will once again bring a strong field of runners to Boston, however. It's that the American contingency isn't at its strongest.

London 2012 Olympians Meb Keflezighi, Ryan Hall and Abdi Abdirahman aren't participating, leaving Jason Hartmann as the best hope for the host nation. He finished fourth at the event a year ago, though last year's blistering heat ensured that any results from that race include a footnote. 

His best marathon time—2:11:06 in Chicago in 2011, an eighth-place finish—is several minutes slower than the best times from the top contenders. Last year's winner, Korir, has a personal best of 2:06:13, meaning he's about 11.5 seconds faster per mile than Hartmann at each's best.

And Korir isn't even the race favorite. Yikes. 

Look, we all want to remain optimistic and see an American take this race, but the truth is the odds of it happening are about as good as they were for the No. 16 North Carolina A&T Aggies against Louisville in the round of 64 at this year's NCAA tournament. 

Sure, it could have happened, but history told us it wouldn't. Sure, 14-year-old Tianlang Guan could have won this year's Masters, but we all knew it wasn't actually going to happen.

Okay, okay, so maybe an American has a better chance to win than the above scenarios, but it's really, really unlikely. The field is strong again this year, the weather is expected to be better than last year and the American marathon Olympians aren't in the field. 

Don't warm up your Billie Jean records, folks—the drought will continue.


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