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Evans Rutto bookmakers favourite in London, elite women have separate start in Boston for the first time

About 85,000 entries at three races makes it the biggest marathon weekend

2004-04-17

April clearly is the marathon month of the year. And this coming weekend will be the highlight of the month. While the biggest European marathon will be started in London on Sunday, the traditional Boston Marathon will follow on Monday. Additionally in Hamburg Germanys second biggest marathon will be started on Sunday. About 85,000 runners have entered these three races.

Almost 45,000 are on Londons start list. But Englands superstar Paula Radcliffe will not be among the runners on Sunday. She does not run a spring marathon this year since she decided to fully concentrate on the Olympics where she is expected to run the marathon. A year ago she had set the world record in London, clocking 2:15:25. Nonetheless the London Marathon features a very strong womens field.

“It is a pity Paula is not running. Because I had hoped to learn something from her during this marathon“, Sun Yingjie said. The Asian record holder from China will now be the fastest woman in the field (2:19:39). If she would win it would be a unique success. Because never before has a Chinese won one of the big international city marathons. But it will be a tough task. Among the contenders are Margaret Okayo from Kenya (New York Marathon winner 2003), Ethiopias Gete Wami and Joyce Chepchumba (Kenya), who has won London already twice.

Concerning the mens field English bookmakers rate Evans Rutto as the favourite. The 26 year-old belongs to the group of runners who are coached by Uta Pippigs coach Dieter Hogen. It was Rutto who produced a sensational time when he won the Chicago marathon last October. His 2:05:50 stand as an unofficial world debut record. Another runner from Hogens group will now run his first marathon in London: John Yuda (Tanzania). Among the high clas opposition is the Olympic Champion Gezahegne Abera (Ethiopia), who won London last year. Reigning World Champion Jaouad Gharib (Marocco) and Sammy Korir (Kenya), who is the second fastest marathoner of all times (2:04:56), will also run London. Due to an injury world record holder Paul Tergat (Kenya/2:04:55) had to withdraw from this race.

While the winner in London will receive 55,000 US Dollar first prize in Boston is 80,000. Last years winner Robert Cheruiyot will be in the race again. He will meet his countrymen from Kenya: Rodgers Rop, Martin Lel, Timothy Cherigat, Laban Kipkemboi and Steven Kiogora. The later three are also coached by Dieter Hogen. There seems to be a clear favourite in the womens race: World Champion Catherina Ndereba (Kenya).

Around 20,000 runners have entered the 108th Boston Marathon. It will be the first time that the women will have a separate start. They will start almost half an hour before the mens elite field and the mass race will begin. It is quite an historic step for the Boston Marathon. Because it was here where women made marathon history. Back in 1966 it was Roberta Gibb who secretly ran the marathon. But one year later there was a real scandal, because Katherine Switzer became the first woman to run the race with an official bib number. She had filled in the entry form, but put in just the initial of her first name. Attempts to throw her out of the race failed. Katherine Switzer finished the Boston Marathon. But it took another five years until women were officially accepted at this race.

Ironically many years later it was the Boston Marathon that put together some of the finest women marathon fields ever. Uta Pippig wrote history in 1996 when she became the first woman to win the race three times in a row. Additionally the race in 1996 was the centenary event. Until today that was the biggest marathon race ever.

Separating the womens elite field Boston follows other big marathons like London or New York. Women will be much more in the centre of attention now. Uta Pippig welcomes this change: “The elite women runners will now be able to spot each other much better during the race. That is a big advantage for the development of the race.“


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