Ethiopians Headline the Women’s and Men’s Elite Fields for the Boston Marathon

Ethiopia’s Yebrgual Melese and Mare Dibaba are among the star international female athletes competing in the upcoming 2021 Boston Marathon, while the men's elite category also includes Ethiopians Asefa Mengstu, Lemi Berhanu Hayle and Jemal Yimer. (Getty Images)

The Boston Globe

A pair of Ethiopian runners with the fastest men’s and women’s times in the field headline the elite runner entry list for the 2021 Boston Marathon that was announced Wednesday by the Boston Athletic Association.

Because of the pandemic, the race was postponed from April and will be run Oct. 11.

Nine women who have run faster than 2:22:00 will line up in Hopkinton, including Ethiopia’s Yebrgual Melese, whose 2:19:36 personal best ranks fastest in the field. Melese will have some tough competition from fellow Ethiopian Mare Dibaba, the 2015 world champion and 2016 Olympic bronze medalist.

Dibaba has broken 2:20 twice, running 2:19:52 in 2012 and 2015, but she has not run that fast since. Also, Edina Kiplagat of Kenya, a two-time world champion and Olympic silver medalist who finished second at Boston in 2019, will challenge for the top spot.

American Jordan Hasay is familiar with the course, finishing third twice. She is the third-fastest US woman in history with a personal best of 2:20:57.

On the men’s side, Ethiopian Asefa Mengstu has the fastest personal best and the 23rd- fastest marathon ever at 2:04:06. Fellow Ethiopians Lemi Berhanu Hayle, the 2015 Boston champion, and Dejene Debela, who has run a sub-2:06, will join him. Berhanu’s personal best is just behind Mengstu’s at 2:04:33.

After much success over the half marathon and in cross-country, Kenya’s Leonard Barsoton and Ethiopia’s Jemal Yimer will make their marathon debuts. Barsoton earned a silver medal at the World Cross-Country Championships in 2017, and Yimer owns the Ethiopian national record of 58:33 in the half marathon.

Eight of the top 12 finishers from the US Olympic marathon trials will compete in Boston, including Abdi Abdirahman, who finished 41st at the Tokyo Games last week.

In the women’s wheelchair field, course record-holder Manuela Schär of Switzerland is the favorite, but she will be challenged by five-time Boston champion Tatyana McFadden. Team USA Paralympians Susannah Scaroni and Jenna Fesemyer also will compete.

The men’s wheelchair field features four former champions: Daniel Romanchuk, Marcel Hug, Ernst van Dyk, and Josh Cassidy, who have a combined 16 Boston titles. Aaron Pike, who will compete for Team USA in the Paralympic marathon, also will be in the field.

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