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Lagat, Ndereba are set

They will defend titles at Boston Marathon

By Barbara Huebner, Globe Staff, 3/23/2001

lijah Lagat and Catherine Ndereba, both from Kenya, will return to defend their laurel wreaths in the 105th running of the Boston Marathon April 16.

Also in the elite field of 34 athletes from 12 countries announced yesterday by John Hancock Financial Services, major sponsor of the race, are Moses Tanui and Gezahegne Abera, setting the scene for a possible reprise of last year's thrilling finish in the men's race, when all three sprinted together down Boylston Street to the closest finish in Boston history.

''That would be great, wouldn't it?'' said Guy Morse, executive director of the Boston Athletic Association. ''I'm just very pleased with the field that John Hancock has once again assembled.''

Lagat and Abera were credited with the same time (2 hours 9 minutes 47 seconds), with two-time Boston champion Tanui, of Kenya, three seconds back.

Abera went on to Sydney, bringing home an Olympic gold medal for Ethiopia and being named the No. 1 marathoner in the world for 2000 by Track & Field News.

Tanui, the third-fastest marathoner in history with his 2:06:16 in Chicago two years ago, is the speediest man in the field.

In the women's race, Ndereba will be challenged by three-time Boston winner and 1996 Olympic gold medalist Fatuma Roba of Ethiopia and fellow Kenyan Lornah Kiplagat, whose gutsy front-running in last fall's Chicago Marathon helped spur Ndereba to victory in 2:21:33, making her the fourth-fastest woman in history. Kiplagat finished second in 2:22:36. They will be joined by Russia's Ludmila Petrova, winner of the New York City Marathon last fall.

Ndereba's win here last year was her first marathon victory, and she calls it the most important accomplishment in a spectacular career on the roads. It won't be easy to repeat, however. Kiplagat and Roba have both been running well this year, with Kiplagat setting a world's best at 20K (1:03:54) and Roba running a personal best 1:10:16 in a half-marathon.

Although there are no Americans in the women's elite field, the men's side features four: David Morris, whose 2:09:32 at Chicago in 1999 set an American record; Rod DeHaven, winner of the 2000 US Olympic Trials; Mark Coogan, an Attleboro native and member of the 1996 Olympic marathon team; and Josh Cox, 25, an up-and-comer who was the youngest runner in the men's marathon trials last year and whose 2:13:55 later in Chicago was a personal best by more than six minutes.

''It's very encouraging to see that these [American] athletes are choosing to compete here, with and against the world's best,'' said Morse.

Others among the top elites include:

Bong-Ju Lee, Korea: Silver medalist in 1996 Olympics, Korean national record-holder, 11th (2:09:57) in his only Boston appearance, 1994.

Peter Githuka, Kenya: World record-holder at 8K; twice ranked the No. 2 road racer of the year by Runner's World magazine; sixth (2:14:03) here in 1999.

Shem Kororia, Kenya: Won 1997 World Half-Marathon Championships in 59:56, outkicking Tanui. Boston debut.

Silvio Guerra, Ecuador: National record-holder in the marathon, 10K, and 5K; 14th in 2000 Olympics; second (2:10:19) in Boston in 1999.

Nicole Carroll, Australia: Second-fastest Australian woman marathoner of all time, behind Lisa (Martin) Ondieki; former Australian record-holder at 50K; won Paris Marathon in 1998. Boston debut.

Lyubov Morgunova, Russia: Ran three marathons last year, finishing eighth in London (2:26:33) and 23d at the Olympics (2:32:35) before smashing the Honolulu course record by more than two minutes to win in 2:28:33. Boston debut.

  MEN'S ELITE FIELD (as of March 23)
Moses Tanui Kenya 2:06:16 Chicago, 1999
Bong-Ju Lee Korea 2:07:20 Toyko, 2000
Elijah Lagat Kenya 2:07:41 Berlin, 1997
Gezahegne Abera Ethiopia 2:07:54 Fukuoka, 1999
Peter Githuka Kenya 2:08:02 Chicago, 2000
Shem Kororia Kenya 2:09:32 New York, 1999
David Morris US 2:09:32 Chicago, 1999
Silvio Guerra Ecuador 2:09:49 Chicago, 1997
David Kiptum Busienei Kenya 2:10:38 Amsterdam, 200
Makhosonke Fika South Africa 2:10:39 Paris, 1999
Laban Nkete South Africa 2:12:30 Boston, 2000
Motsehi Moeketsana South Africa 2:12:47 Berlin, 2000
Rod DeHaven US 2:13:02 Chicago, 1998
Mark Coogan US 2:13:05 Charlotte, 1996
Bruce Deacon Canada 2:13:35 London, 1994
Roderic de Highden Australia 2:13:53 Fukuoka, 1999
John Cox US 3:13:55 Chicago, 2000
Je-Kyung Kim Korea 2:13:57 Chunchon, 2000
Abebe Gezahegne Yimer Ethiopia 2:17:40 Addis Ababa, 2000
(2,400m altitude)
Simon Mpholo South Africa DNF Boston, 2000
Joshua Chelanga Kenya Debut
Timothy Cherigat Kenya Debut  
  WOMEN'S ELITE FIELD (as of March 23)
Catherine Ndereba Kenya 2:21:33 Chicago, 2000
Lornah Kiplagat Kenya 2:22:36 Chicago, 2000
Fatuma Roba Ethiopia 2:23:21 Boston, 1998
Ludmilla Petrova Russia 2:25:45 New York, 2000
Nicole Carroll Australia 2:25:52 London, 1999
Lyubov Morgunova Russia 2:26:33 London, 2000
Wei Yanan China 2:26:34 Beijing, 2000
Zhang Shujing China 2:27:14 Berlin, 2000
Malgorzata Sobanska Poland 2:27:30 Berlin, 1999
Irina Timofeyeva Russia 2:27:46 Paris. 1999
Ruth Jepkoech Kutol Kenya 2:28:16 Venice, 2000
Bruna Genovese Italy 2:31:06 Venice, 1999

This story ran on page E10 of the Boston Globe on 3/23/2001.
© Copyright 2001 Globe Newspaper Company.

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