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Boston preview: who to watch among the elite women on Monday

Women's field crowded with contenders from both sides of the Atlantic as anticipation builds for Monday's Boston Marathon

Edna Kiplagat

Never before have there been as many serious contenders with American passports as there will be on Monday at the 122nd running of the Boston Marathon. Will an American woman break Boston’s 33-year drought in 2018? That’s anybody’s guess, and the Americans, though strong, will have their work cut out for them, as always. Here’s a sneak preview of the elite women who will set off from Hopkinton at 9:32 a.m. Monday, starting with the Americans:

Shalane Flanagan, 36, won the New York marathon in dramatic style last November, with a time of 2:26:53. She grew up in Massachusetts but has not run Boston since 2015, when she finished ninth.

Desiree (Desi) Linden was only two seconds short of victory in 2011, her time of 2:22:38 remaining the U.S. Boston course record until Flanagan broke it in 2014, running 2:22:02, placing seventh overall and being the first American to finish. Jordan Hasay was third at Boston (her marathon debut) as well as at Chicago in 2017, running the fastest first marathon by a considerable margin (2:23:00) and the second-fastest marathon in history by an American woman at Chicago. The least experienced in the field at the marathon distance, Molly Huddle, came third in her marathon debut at New York in 2016. Her time was 2:28:13.

Though not really a medal contender, it should still prove inspiring to watch the U.S.’s Deena Kastor, 45, who is coming back to Boston for only the second time. Kastor holds the American women’s marathon record (2:19:36, set in London in 2006). She won bronze at the 2004 Olympics. 

According to Runner’s World, two other Americans who may surprise us are Serena Burla and Kellyn Taylor.

In the international field, Canada’s Krista DuChene also hopes to challenge expectations in Boston on Monday. Though she did not have a good race in London last year, DuChene is the second fastest marathoner in Canadian history, with a PB of 2:28:32. 

The North Americans will have to do battle with Kenya’s formidable Edna Kiplagat, 38, who won Boston last year in 2:21:52. A mother of five, Kiplagat has also won New York as well as London. 


Ethiopia’s Aselefech Mergia, 3-time winner of the Dubai marathon, has also won London, and has a PB of 2:19:31.

Mergia’s compatriot Mamitu Daska was third at New York in 2017. Previous Boston winners Buzunesh Deba of Ethiopia and Caroline Rotich  (2015) of Kenya are also returning this year.

Notably absent are Mary Keitany of Kenya and Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia, who are racing London on April 22, as well as Canadian Lanni Marchant and American Amy Cragg.