Again in 2012, the two springtime World Marathon Majors, Boston and London, will be staged six days apart.  Boston’s 116th annual sets off from Hopkinton on Monday April 16th  for Copley Square, while London’s 32nd annual begins in Blackheath headed for The Mall along St. James Park the following Sunday April 22nd.

Today, 27-year Boston Marathon sponsor John Hancock Financial Services announced the professional field for the annual Patriot’s Day race, while London’s race director Dave Bedford released his women’s field back in early December before travelling to Iten, Kenya to announce his men’s field on January 20th.

Both events are loaded, as the crème of Kenyan and Ethiopian running look to make one last impression on their Olympic selectors before final Olympic squads are chosen for the return to London in August for the Games.

Boston’s field features defending champions Geoffrey Mutai (2:03:02, CR, WB) and Caroline Kilel (2:22:36) of Kenya.  London parries with defending Kenyan champions Emmanuel Mutai (2:04:40, CR) and Mary Keitany (2:19:19).  Boston will line up five sub-2:06 men (see below), London counters with ten.

London also has the edge in terms of depth on the women’s side with ten sub-2:23 women to Boston’s five, yet Boston brings together five champions from 2011: Kilel (Boston) and Georgina Rono (Eindhoven) of Kenya, Firehiwot Dado (New York), Aselefech Mergia (Dubai 2012), and Mamitu Daska (Frankfurt) of Ethiopia. London may have fewer current champions, but is Kenyan top heavy with defender Mary Keitany going up against 2011 Berlin champion Florence Kiplagat, and her 2011 World Champion namesake (though unrelated) Edna Kiplagat.

Every year we anxiously await announcements of the Boston and London fields, and there is keen interest comparing and contrasting the two events.  But according to its own website, the World Marathon Majors was begun in 2006 because “the organizers of these five races (Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago, New York City) recognized an opportunity to advance the sport, raise awareness of its athletes and increase the level of interest in elite racing among running enthusiasts.”

With its annual $500,000 prize awarded to one man and one woman, one has to say, to a degree, the World Marathon Majors concept has been a success. Yet six years into the promotion, each individual race within the five-race series maintains its own path, seeking its own rewards.  Which makes you wonder.

There is an old business dictum which enjoins enterprises to “mass your assets”.  The question is what if Boston and London actually worked together instead of competing?  Rather than recruiting for the same athletes to fill separate fields, and thereby thinning out the critical mass in each, what if each Major staged a single-gender pro race, then switched genders the following year, and so on, and so on?

If all the A-level men in the world went to London one year, and all the A-level women went to Boston, imagine those races.  One story told exceptionally well with all eyes focused on that single venue with every great marathoner in the world in that gender in attendance, Wow! Talk about increasing the level of interest in elite racing.

As it currently stands, however, with Boston and London dividing the talent in the spring, then Berlin, Chicago, and New York splitting up the pool in the fall (and the World Championship never taken as seriously as the Olympics due to the lack of financial rewards), there has never been a race in modern times where all the best marathon runners in the world have been gathered in one place at one time.  Even the Olympics limit the fields to three-per-nation, leaving out a huge swath of East African talent.

Consider that: Never in modern history have all the best men or the corresponding top women marathoners come to one place to race.  Kind of amazing.
Boston’s MEN

Geoffrey   Mutai (Kenya) 2:03:02
Gebre Gebremariam (Ethiopia) 2:04:53
Levy Matebo (Kenya) 2:05:16
Wilson Chebet (Kenya) 2:05:27
Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot (Ken) 2:05:502
Laban Korir (Kenya) 2:06:05
Wesley Korir (Kenya) 2:06:15
Bernard Kipyego (Kenya) 2:06:29
David Barmasai – (Kenya) 2:07:18
Dickson Chumba (Kenya) 2:07:23
Josphat Ndambiri (Kenya) 2:07:36
Peter Kamais (Kenya) 2:07:37
Mathew Kisorio (Kenya) 2:10:58
Frankline Chepkwony (Ken) 2:10:59
Jason Hartmann (USA) 2:11:06
Michel Butter (NED) 2:12:59
Antonio Vega (USA) 2:13:47

London’s MEN

Emmanuel Mutai (Kenya) 2:04:40
Patrick Makau (Kenya) 2:03:38

Wilson Kipsang (Kenya) 2:03:42
Abel Kirui (Kenya) 2:05:04

Vincent Kipruto (Kenya) 2:05:13
Martin Lel (Kenya) 2:05:15

Tsegaye Kebede (Ethiopia) 2:05:18
Feyisa Lilesa (Ethiopia) 2:05:23

Bazu Worku (Ethiopia) 2:05:25
Jaouad Gharib (Morocco) 2:05:27
Marilson Gomes dos Santos (Brazil) 2:06:34
Markos Geneti (Ethiopia) 2:06:35
Yared Asmerson (Eritrea) 2:07:27
Samuel Tsegay (Eritrea) 2:07:28
Abreham Cherkos (Ethiopia) 2:07:29
Abderrahim Bouramdane (Morocco) 2:07:33
Adil Annani (Morocco) 2:10:15
Scott Westcott (Australia) 2:11:36
Zersenay Tadese (Eritrea) 2:12:03

Boston   WOMEN
Aselefech Mergia (Eth) 2:19:31
Galina Bogomolova (Rus) 2:20:47
Mamitu Daska (Eth) 2:21:59
Caroline Kilel (Ken) 2:22:36
Sharon Cherop (Ken) 2:22:42
Ashu Kasim (Eth) 2:23:09
Firehiwot Dado (Eth) 2:23:15
Buzunesh Deba (Eth) 2:23:19
Rita Jeptoo (Ken) 2:23:38
Agnes Kiprop (Ken) 2:23:54
Caroline Rotich (Ken) 2:24:26
Georgina Rono (Ken) 2:24:33
Alevtina Biktimirova (Rus) 2:25:12
Genet Getaneh (Eth) 2:25:57
Tatyana Pushkareva (Rus)2:26:14
Diana Sigei (Ken) 2:26:53
Nadezdha Leonteva (Rus) 2:31:57

London WOMEN

Mary Keitany (Kenya)


Irina Mikitenko (Germany)


Florence Kiplagat (Kenya)


Edna Kiplagat (Kenya)


Constantina Dita   (Romania)


Atsede Baysa (Ethiopia)


Ejegayehu Dibaba (Ethiopia)


Inga Abitova (Russia)


Korene Jelila (Ethiopia)


Priscah Jeptoo (Kenya)


Bezunesh Bekele   (Ethiopia)


Isabellah Andersson (Sweden)


Mariya Konovalova   (Russia)


Aberu Kebede (Ethiopia)


Jessica Augusto   (Portugal)


Nadia Ejjafini (Italy)


Yuliya Ruban (Ukraine)


Leading British Women

Liz Yelling


Claire Hallissey


Louise Damen



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