After being canceled last year due to Covid-19 and postponed six months this year, the 125th edition of the Boston Marathon is finally scheduled to be contested on Monday.
Kenyans with marathon triumphs earlier this year are among the favorites in the 26.2-mile showdown over the streets of Boston, with vaccinations or a negative Covid-19 test at the race medical center needed to compete.
A field of 20,000, trimmed by 40% from the usual size, will compete with organizers saying about 95% of runners have been vaccinated. Masks will be needed in certain race areas while about 200,000 spectators are expected to line the route.
"We look forward mightily to what's coming Monday," Boston Athletic Association chief executive officer Tom Grilk said. "It has been more than 900 days since we last ran together here in person."
The spring classic will be contested a day after the Chicago Marathon and a few weeks ahead of the New York Marathon.
The men's race is up for grabs with Kenya's Benson Kipruto, 30, coming off a victory five months ago in Prague in 2:10:16, well off his best of 2:05:13 from Toronto in 2019. Kipruto was also seventh last year at London.
Kenya's Wilson Chebet, 36, ran his best on 2:05:27 a decade ago to win at Rotterdam and won from 2011-2013 at Amsterdam but in May ran 2:08:38 to finish 13th at Milan.
Ethiopia's Asefa Mengstu, 33, has the field's top personal best at 2:04:06 from 2018 at Dubai and placed seventh at last year's Tokyo Marathon in 2:06:23.
Ethiopian Lelisa Desisa, 31, was the 2019 world champion and won the 2013 and 2015 Boston titles as well as the 2018 New York crown, but failed to finish at the Tokyo Olympics in August. His best of 2:04:45 came in a 2013 Dubai victory.
Another Ethiopian, Lemi Berhanu, 27, went 2:04:33 in a 2016 Dubai runner-up effort trying to repeat as champion. He was a runner-up at Toronto in 2019 but failed to finish twice last year.
In the women's race Kenya's Angela Tanui, 29, won in January at Bangladesh in 2:29:04 and took the Tuscany title in Italy last April in 2:20:08.
The only runners in the field with faster times are Kenya's Edna Kiplagat and Ethiopia's Mare Dibaba, who both broke 2:20:00 in 2012.
Kiplagat, 42, is a two-time world champion with wins at New York, London and at Boston in 2017 in 2:21:52. She was also the 2019 Boston runner-up.
Dibaba, 31, won the 2015 world title and Olympic bronze in 2016. She was most recently the 2019 Berlin Marathon runner-up in 2:20:21.