Elite Athletes to Watch in the 2019 Boston Marathon

The John Hancock Elite Athlete Team is made up of 51 runners from 10 countries, including 10 former champions, 18 Olympians, and 21 Abbott World Marathon Major winners.

elite athletes Boston Marathon 2019

Des Linden and Yuki Kawauchi, reigning champs of the Boston Marathon. Photos via AP/Charles Krupa/Elise Amendola

Prep your signs and your screaming voice: The Boston Marathon is almost here. With the excitement of the most historic marathon in the world comes the thrill of watching someone break the tape. After all, as witnessed last year, the course can be a behemoth to master and the weather can prove to be treacherous—leaving the top spot up for anyone to grab.

Last year’s reigning champions include Desiree Linden, the first American woman to win the race in 33 years and Yuki Kawauchi of Japan. Linden finished with a time of 2:39:54 and Kawauchi with a time of 2:15:54 during that rain sodden day.

This year, the John Hancock Elite Athlete team is made up of 51 athletes, 23 women and 28 men, from 10 different countries. The roster includes 10 former champions, 18 Olympians, and 21 Abbott Marathon Major winners. Below are the top 10 women and men to watch.


1. Des Linden
Home country: USA
Best time: 2:22:38
Achievements: Reigning 2019 champion and first American woman to break the tape in 33 years. She is a two-time Olympian.

2. Edna Kiplagat
Home country: Kenya
Best time: 2:19:50
Achievements: 2017 Boston Marathon champion. She has won the Abbott World Marathon Majors Series three times.

3. Aselefech Mergia
Home country: Ethiopia
Best time: 2:19:31
Achievements: She has won the Dubai Marathon three times and the 2010 Virgin London Marathon.   

4. Worknesh Degefa
Home country: Ethiopia
Best time: 2:17:41
Achievements: Fourth fastest women’s marathoner in history. Holds the national marathon record in Ethiopia.

5. Jordan Hasay
Home country: USA
Best time: 2:20:57
Achievements: Finished third in the 2017 Boston Marathon.

6. Mare Dibaba
Home country: Ethiopia 
Best time: 2:19:52
Achievements: Two-time Olympian, bronze medalist, World Championship gold medalist, and 11 marathon podium finishes.

7. Sally Kipyego
Home country: USA
Best time: 2:28:01
Achievements: 2016 runner-up in the New York City Marathon. 

8. Meskerem Assefa
Home country: Ethiopia
Best time: 2:20:36
Achievements: Two-time Olympian and 11 marathon podium finishes. 

9. Betsy Saina
Home country: Kenya
Best time: 2:22:56
Achievements: 2018 Paris Marathon champion. 

10. Biruktayit Eshetu
Home country: Ethiopia
Best time: 2:23:28
Achievements: Three-time Houston Marathon winner. 


1. Yuki Kawauchi
Home country: Japan
Best time: 2:08:47
Achievements: Reigning 2018 champion and first Japanese to win the race in 31 years. Winner of over 30 marathons.

2. Geoggrey Kirui
Home country: Kenya
Best time: 2:06:27
Achievements: 2017 Boston Marathon champion. 

3. Lelisa Desisa
Home country: Ethiopia
Best time: 2:04:45
Achievements: Seven podium finished in Abbott World Marathon Majors. Boston Marathon champion in 2013 and 2015.   

4. Lawrence Cherono
Home country: Kenya
Best time: 2:04:06
Achievements: Winner of six marathons. Fastest man in the field this year. 

5. Lemi Berhanu
Home country: Ethiopia
Best time: 2:04:33
Achievements: 2016 Boston Marathon champion. 

6. Shadrack Biwott
Home country: USA
Best time: 2:12:01
Achievements: Third place finish in the Boston Marathon last year.

7. Zersenay Tadese
Home country: Eritrea
Best time: 2:08:46
Achievements: Three-time Olympian. 

8. Dathan Ritzenhein
Home country: USA
Best time: 2:08:37
Achievements: Fourth fastest United States marathoner of all time. Three-time Olympian.

9. Hiroto Inoue
Home country: Japan
Best time: 2:06:54
Achievements: 2018 Asian Games Marathon gold medalist.

10. Ghirmay Ghebreslassie
Home country: Eritrea
Best time: 2:07:46
Achievements: Only 19-years-old, he won the 2015 IAAF World Championships Marathon and placed fourth at the 2016 Olympic Games Marathon.