Buzunesh Deba (Ethiopia), 2:23:19 PR (New York City, 2011)
Deba boldly attacked the New York City course in November, building as much as a three-minute lead on a world-class chase pack before being run down by Priscah Jeptoo and finishing second. She has said she'll use the same tactics on Monday if the early miles are slow, which has been the case in recent years. Boston's course won't deter Deba, who has repeatedly run well on New York City's challenging course. Still, it's been more than a decade since Boston's women's race was won in a runaway.
Meselech Melkamu (Ethiopia), 2:21:01 PR (Frankfurt, 2012)
Melkamu ran her debut marathon in the fall of 2012, winning Frankfurt in a course record of 2:21:01. That remains by far the best performance of her short marathon career. She was second at Dubai in January (2:25:23). Melkamu came to the marathon after much success on the track (a world silver medal and 29:53 10K PR) and in cross country. Many runners with that background run their best marathon in their first or second rather than continuing to improve when they concentrate on the distance.
Desiree Linden (USA), 2:25:55 PR (Olympic trials, 2012; also 2:22:38 at point-to-point Boston in 2011)
Linden (then Desiree Davila) almost ended the American drought in 2011 when she finished second, two seconds behind Kilel. Linden returned to marathoning last fall in Berlin, running 2:29 after a long recovery from a stress fracture that knocked her out of the 2012 Olympic marathon. She spent much of the first part of 2014 training at altitude in Kenya, and has said her time there strengthened her both physically and mentally. Linden will run her own race early on, but also knows she has to keep the pack close, because she lacks the finishing speed of some of her competitors.
THE OTHER AMERICANS
Serena Burla, 2:28:01 PR (Amsterdam, 2013)
Look for a solid run by Burla. She set her PR in finishing second in October in Amsterdam. She also ran 2:28 in 2012. In January, she won the U.S. half-marathon title.
Adrianna Nelson, 2:28:52 (London, 2008)
Nelson almost won her debut marathon at Chicago in 2007 when running for Romania, but was unaware that Ethiopian Berhane Adere was closing on her and was caught off guard when Adere caught her yards before the finish. Since becoming an American in 2011, Nelson has won the 2013 national half-marathon title and was the top American finisher at November's New York City Marathon.