The world's top long-distance runners will descend on New England this spring for one of the biggest events of the year: The 2014 Boston Marathon.
Despite the buzz surrounding Monday's 118th running, the U.S. enters in midst of an extended drought in both the men's and women's elite competition.
An American elite woman hasn't won since Lisa Larsen Weidenbach in 1985, while the American men's drought has spanned even longer, going back to Greg Meyer's triumph in 1983.
Below, we'll take a closer look at a trio of American stars who could finally break through in 2014.
Date: Monday, April 21
Start Time: 9:30 a.m. ET*
Route: Hopkinton, Mass. to Boston
Watch: Universal Sports Network
Live Stream: BAA.org
*Elite women start time, elite men start at 10 a.m. ET
A silver medalist at the Olympics in 2004, Meb Keflezighi will be a runner to watch for on Monday, as pointed out by Competitor Magazine's Mario Fraioli on Twitter:
Keflezighi finished fifth at the Boston Marathon back in 2010 and ran a personal best time of two hours, nine minutes and eight seconds as recently as 2012 when he became the oldest man to win the Olympic Marathon Trials.
He would go on to place fourth at the 2012 Summer Games in London.
Despite nearing age 39, Keflezighi is still a contender among the elite men's runners and has the potential to win his first Boston Marathon if he can return to Olympic form on Monday.
Desiree Davila Linden
A second-place finisher at the Boston Marathon in 2011, America's Desiree Davila Linden will be one of the top elite women's runners in the field on Monday.
Three years ago, Linden appeared poised to end the Americans' winless streak, but her American women's record time of 2:22:38 wasn't enough as she finished two seconds off the winning pace.
Injuries have limited the 30-year-old in recent years, but her 2011 performance in Boston highlights her strengths as a competitor and proved she can post a winning time at this event.
Veteran male Ryan Hall is another U.S. star to keep an eye out for on Monday. The 31-year-old talent hasn't lived up to expectations of late, missing events and failing to complete a marathon since 2012 because of nagging injury.
However, Hall is coming off an intense whirlwind training session in Ethiopia that he believes has prepared him to get over the hump, according to Fraioli (via ESPN.com):
The biggest lesson I learned in Ethiopia was to be accustomed to suffering. There's no easy day. Every single run at 9,000 feet is hard and you're breathing hard. It was exactly what I wanted. I felt like I just needed to get away from things, kind of like 'Rocky' when he's training in Siberia and just disappears, it's just him, working hard and resting and recovering. I needed that.
I needed to just get away from my cellphone, get away from the Internet and be able to put my head down and just train. That's exactly what I did for a month and I've never seen so much growth in my training in that amount of time.
Keep in mind that Hall posted the fastest time ever by an American man at the Boston Marathon back in 2011 when he completed the course in a time of 2:04:58. Despite the strong effort, he would finish fourth for the second consecutive year.
A third-place finisher here in 2009, Hall has put forth some of his best efforts in Boston over the years and is certainly a threat to end the U.S.'s lengthy drought.
Although he'll have to finish his first marathon in two years in order to have a shot, Hall possesses a renewed sense of belief following a grueling training program and is still young enough to break through.
Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter.
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