In a battlefield, it’s the power of ammunition and fighting strategy that counts.
There have been mouth-watering clashes between Kenyan and Ethiopian athletes at the World Championships, Olympic Games and the World Marathon Majors series.
And a hair-raising showdown looms this evening when Kenya’s top marathoners battle for jewels at the 127th Boston Marathon.
Eliud Kipchoge, the world marathon record holder, will lead defending champion Evans Chebet and Chicago Marathon winner Benson Kipruto against Ethiopians in two-time Boston Marathon winner Lelisa Desisa and Shura Kitata, who beat Kipchoge at the 2020 London Marathon.
Four world major marathons
Kipchoge has so far won four World Marathon Majors series races –London, Berlin, Tokyo and Chicago –and longs to make it five in Boston on Monday before wrapping up his campaign in New York Marathon in November 2023.
Although the Boston event takes place on an undulating course, Kipchoge is confident that his usual training lends itself to a hilly race. Victory may not come easy, however, as he faces a field featuring three former winners in Boston and a number of other major marathon champions.
Chebet ran 2:06:51 to claim his Boston Marathon victory in 2022 and then followed that with a New York City Marathon win in November 2023, becoming just the sixth man to ever win the Boston and New York City marathons in the same year.
His compatriot and training partner Kipruto won the 2021 Boston Marathon in 2:09:51 and then placed third in the 2022 edition of the race before rebounding to win the Chicago Marathon in a PB of 2:04:24 last October.
Ethiopia’s Desisa has great experience of the Boston event as together with his wins in 2013 and 2015, he secured second-place finishes in 2016 and 2019.
This year marks 10 years since his first victory, after which he donated his champion’s medal back to the City of Boston in recognition of the tragedy of April 15, 2013. The 2019 world marathon champion also won the New York City Marathon in 2018.
Joining them on the start line will be Ethiopia’s Shura Kitata, who won the London Marathon in 2020, when Kipchoge placed eighth after struggling with a blocked ear. He was also runner-up in New York in 2022 and 2018 and finished second behind Kipchoge in London in 2018.
The women’s race is also filled with great quality, featuring many strong contenders.
Ethiopia’s Amane Beriso is the fastest in the field thanks to the 2:14:58 PB she ran to win in Valencia in December.
Hellen Obiri, the two-time world 5000m champion, who ran her first marathon in New York in November finishing sixth, will make her debut.
Two-time Boston Marathon winner Edna Kiplagat returns, as do Ethiopia’s Ababel Yeshaneh and Kenya’s Mary Ngugi.
Former world half marathon record-holder Joyciline Jepkosgei is also back in Boston.