Ethiopians, Kenyans lead elite men

Lelisa Desisa

The elite men's field for the 2014 Boston Marathon includes some of the biggest names in distance running, including the defending Boston champion, record holders from some of the biggest marathons around the world and several big-name Americans. 

Here's how the field stacks up.

THE FAVORITES

Lelisa Desisa (Ethiopia), 2:04:45 PR (Dubai, 2013)
Last year's winner is a good candidate to be the first back-to-back men's champion since 2008. Desisa has run only three marathons, all in 2013; in addition to Boston, he won his debut in Dubai and was second at the world championships in August. He's shown he can race well on any type of course, and in either a fast or tactical race. In his most recent race in mid-February, Desisa led eight men who finished under an hour to win a highly competitive half-marathon in the United Arab Emirates. Desisa's chances rise the longer the lead pack stays together.

Dennis Kimetto (Kenya), 2:03:45 PR (Chicago, 2013)
The fastest man in the field broke the Chicago Marathon course record by almost a minute last October. His PR makes him the third-fastest person in history on a record-eligible course. Two things keep us from tabbing Kimetto as the overwhelming favorite. First, his three career marathons have been on flat, fast courses instead of something with Boston's ups and downs. Also, he missed a key half-marathon tuneup race in February with an ankle injury, then ran only 64:56 at a half-marathon in March. If Kimetto is healthy, look for him to push in the Newton hills to get a clear break from the field.

THE CONTENDERS

Micah Kogo (Kenya), 2:06:56 PR (Chicago, 2013)
Kogo finished second at Boston last year in his marathon debut. He dropped his PR to 2:06:56 in finishing fourth at Chicago in October. His trajectory is the sort that has led to many Boston victories. Kogo has won an Olympic bronze medal in the 10K and formerly held the world road record for the distance.

Tilahun Regassa (Ethiopia), 2:05:27 PR (Chicago, 2012)
Regassa is a good example of the young, fearless racers who have defined world-class marathoning in recent years. After debuting in 2:05:27 at Chicago in 2012, the 24-year-old won Rotterdam last spring, also in 2:05. Regassa has won many top shorter events on the U.S. and international road circuit.

Wilson Chebet (Kenya), 2:05:27 PR (Rotterdam, 2011)
One way to pick potential winners is to focus on those with a history of winning. In that case, keep an eye on Chebet, who has won Amsterdam three times and Rotterdam once, each in 2:05. In his one Boston appearance, Chebet was fifth in 2012. It's hard to know if that was because he's only good on pancake-flat courses like Amsterdam and Rotterdam, or if he was affected more than his competitors by that year's heat.

Gebre Gebremariam (Ethiopia), 2:08:00 PR (New York City, 2011; also 2:04:53 on point-to-point Boston in 2011)
Gebremariam won his debut marathon in New York in 2010, but since then hasn't been able to convert being with the leaders late in the race into a victory. He wound up third of the trio that were together in the last mile last year.

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