As it continues to heal from the tragic events of last year, the city of Boston should have ideal weather and a stacked field for the 118th Boston Marathon.
No matter what, the event certainly won't hurt for lack of participation.
Race director Dave McGillivray, as passed along by The Boston Globe's Laura Crimaldi, said there will be 36,000 runners participating, which would be the second most in the event's history and up 9,000 from last year. Volunteers are also expected to turn out in increased numbers. McGillivray is expecting 10,000 volunteers. Last year, there were 8,000.
Through it all, McGillivray is supremely confident in the safety of the event. Crimaldi passed along this quote from the race director: “I truly believe because of our public safety officials that this will be the safest place on the planet on April 21."
So, have a look at the vitals for what should be a memorable day, and then I'll take a look at the top contenders.
Weather Report: AccuWeather.com's forecast calls for "mostly sunny" skies and a high of 62.
When: Monday, April 21 at 9:32 a.m. ET (Women's Elite) and 10 a.m. ET (Men's Elite)
Where: Boston, Mass.
Watch: WBZ-TV (Boston) and Universal Sports Network (National)
Live Stream: WatchLive.BAA.org
*Info courtesy of BAA.org.
Boston Marathon Route
There are extensive road closures and a distinct lack of parking available in Boston for Marathon Monday. Boston.com lists all the road closures for you. Meanwhile, here is the Boston Marathon course map, courtesy of Chris Imai on Twitter:
The Boston Marathon Official Course Map pic.twitter.com/CESRrMxVsn— Chris Imai (@chrisimai) April 16, 2014
Men's Top Contenders
Lelisa Desisa, Ethiopia
A marathon is typically thought of more as a matter of endurance and survival than strategy. That said, Lelisa Desisa has proved to be a good tactician.
In this race last year, he outran two competitors on Boylston Street to take the win. He set them up to be victims of his finishing kick, and it worked to perfection.
He won the race with a time of two hours, 10 minutes and 22 seconds, and he has no intention of letting his title go. TheStar.com's Svea Herbst-Bayliss passed along this quote from the defending champion, "I am ready to win again. I did much training."
Desisa is not the most experienced runner in the field. In fact, this will be just his fourth marathon. He won two of his first three and was second at the World Championships in Moscow in August.
Desisa set his personal best in his first race, which was in Dubai in 2013, of 2:04:45. Only one man in the field has a faster best time.
Dennis Kimetto, Kenya
In case you didn't pick up on my obvious lead-in, Dennis Kimetto is the only runner in this field with a faster personal best than Kimetto.
Like Desisa, he has run in just three marathons, and he's won two of them. He won in Tokyo and Chicago last year. He has, however, never run the Boston Marathon, and there is something to be said for experience on the relatively hilly Boston route.
The hills of this route could very well doom Kimetto, as he likes to get out to a strong start. Runner's World senior content editor Scott Douglass, via BostInno's Hayden Bird, offered up this description of Kimetto's running style:
Another thing that's interesting is that Kimetto is a guy who will sort of push the pace more in the Newton Hills more, where Desisa is sort races more like a track racer where he waits as long as possible, then pushes at the last possible moment to take the lead. It's what he did last year. Kimetto is the guy who will make a big surge after 30-35 kilometers, and then run by himself to the finish. If he does that, I'll know the ankle injury is not an issue.
If Kimetto can successfully handle this grueling task, he has a chance to open up too big a lead for Desisa to make up.
Women's Top Contenders
Rita Jeptoo, Kenya
Rita Jeptoo is back to defend her championship. She won last year with a time of 2:26:25. That was her second Boston Marathon win. Get this, though, her first came in 2006. The 33-year-old's longevity is impressive.
After her first win, Jeptoo had a child and took some time off from racing, so her drought is understandable.
She will be hoping she doesn't have to wait seven years to win another this time, and there's a strong chance she won't. Jeptoo also won the Chicago Marathon last year and turned in a personal-best time of 2:19:57 while doing so.
Jeptoo is almost a guarantee to be in the mix. On top of her strong recent form, she's finished in the top five at this race six times.
Jemima Jelagat Sumgong, Kenya
Jemima Jelagat Sumgong, 29, is looking for her first win at the Boston Marathon, but she's been close. She was the 2012 runner-up after finishing just two seconds behind Sharon Cherop.
Sumgong has looked strong as of late and could be ready to add a career-defining moment. To do that, she will have to beat her teammate and rival Jeptoo.
At the 2013 Chicago Marathon, Sumgong set a personal best with a blistering time of 2:20:48. Unfortunately for her, that was only good enough for second as Jeptoo was also busy turning in her personal best.
Although Sumgong came up short in that race, she is no stranger to winning. She won in Rotterdam last year.
Jeptoo is a strong favorite to repeat in a loaded field. If she fails, however, Sumgong is the best candidate to topple her.