Written by Shannon Polk, Kudos Team Contributor
This year’s Boston Marathon brings an incredible lineup of elite runners, including a pack of U.S. women who will vie for the number one spot. The U.S. hasn’t crowned a woman champion in this race since 1985. Perhaps Shalane Flanagan can repeat what she accomplished in New York. And what about the American men? Will Galen Rupp prove he can not only win on a flat course under humid conditions, as he did in Chicago, but on a path of rolling hills in potentially rainy, cool weather?
Let’s take a look at some of the top female contenders. Edna Kiplagat of Kenya made quite a debut at the Boston Marathon last year, taking home the win. Although Edna is returning with knowledge of the course, Shalane knows it better. With three Boston Marathons under her belt and having grown up in Marblehead, MA—not to mention her historic 2017 NYC Marathon win—she is certainly the hometown favorite.
But Shalane will have some serious competition from fellow Americans Jordan Hasay, who is now the second-fastest American ever with her third-place finish in 2:20:57 at the Chicago Marathon; Desiree Linden, who is ready to climb the podium after fourth-place finishes in Boston in 2015 and 2017; and Molly Huddle, who has finished ahead of Shalane in the past six races they’ve competed against each other.
Deena Kastor, who holds the American record with a time of 2:19:36 set in the 2006 London Marathon, is another big name among the elite women. At 45 years old, she is an unbelievable athlete but may not be a serious contender for this race given her last marathon was the 2015 Chicago Marathon, where she finished with a time of 2:27:47.
For the women’s race, Molly Huddle is our pick to win it all. We think it will be a battle between Edna, Shalane and Molly at the end, with Molly coming out the victor.
Now on to the men’s group, which includes a rematch between 2017 Boston Marathon winner Geoffrey Kirui and U.S. runner-up Galen Rupp, who finished first in the 2017 Chicago Marathon and third in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. However, Ethiopian Tamirat Tola is another fierce competitor, going into Boston with the best time in the field, 2:04:11, which he set in the Dubai Marathon last year. His fellow countrymen include Lemi Berhanu and Lelisa Desisa, who clock in just behind him with personal bests of 2:04:33 and 2:04:45, respectively.
The field is also stacked with Kenyan runners like Nobert Kigen, who finished second in the 2017 Amsterdam Marathon; Evans Chebet, who completed the 2017 Valencia Marathon in 2:05:30; and Felix Kandie, who took second at last year’s Seoul Dong-A International Marathon.
With so many experienced runners, it’s going to be an exhilarating race, but our bets are on Galen Rupp who has shown an incredible fearlessness for someone so new to the marathon.