As the 118th Boston Marathon begins on Monday morning, it’s only natural for there to be nerves among the roughly 36,000 participants who will be running the 26.2-mile course in New England. However, those nerves are stemming from competition and the incredible human feat that is completing a marathon; these nerves are not from what happened a year ago that altered the image of the event forever.
That’s primarily because, on paper, this year’s Boston Marathon field is the fastest of all time. Since 1985, no American has won the big race in Boston on the men’s or women’s side, but the U.S. has hopes of a winner from the country of stars and stripes in 2014.
Ryan Hall, who recorded the fastest American marathon in 2011 (2:04:58) and finished fourth that year, gives the U.S. the best shot at keeping the trophy at home. Jason Hartmann, who finished fourth in each of the past two Boston Marathons, also is a favorite to contend for the Americans.
On the women’s side, Shalane Flanagan finished fourth in the Boston Marathon last year, and she is the American favorite to win this year, although this will only be the second time she’s run the race in Boston. In addition, Desiree Davila Linden, who missed last year’s race with an injury, will be running on Monday and came in second three years ago.
Of course, last year’s defending champions Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia and Rita Jeptoo of Kenya will both be back to try and win consecutive crowns. Among the men, seven have run marathons under 2:05:30 and among the women, nine have recorded times under 2:23:00. That means that if all of them run at or near their best, we could see times that blaze away the pain from last year’s tragedy in Boston.