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Defending champions among Marathon elite

By Michael Vega, Globe Staff, 4/03/02

The defending men's and women's champions, Lee Bong Ju of Korea and Catherine Ndereba of Kenya, headline a field of 32 elite international athletes assembled for the 106th Boston Marathon April 15.

Lee, only the third Korean to don Boston's laurel wreath, snapped a 10-year reign of dominance by the Kenyans last year, covering the 26-mile, 385-yard distance in 2 hours 9 minutes 43 seconds.

The previous Korean to win Boston was Kee Yong Ham in 1950. Kee's win came three years after Yun Bok Suh's seminal triumph, which established a world record (2:25:39).

''Fifty years is a long time,'' Lee said last year. ''And a long time makes this honor much bigger.''

Lee, who dedicated his victory to his late father, Lee Hae Ku, outdistanced runner-up Silvio Guerra of Ecuador (2:10:07) and Joshua Chelanga of Kenya, who made quite a splash in his Boston debut by finishing third (2:10:29).

Lee, Guerra, and Chelanga, in addition to Kenyans David Kiptum Busienei (fourth, 2:11:47) and Mbarek Hussein (fifth, 2:12:01) will be back to lead a strong field of male elite runners.

Josh Cox of El Cajon, Calif., the second-fastest American male last year (14th, 2:16:17) behind Rod DeHaven of Madison, Wis., (sixth, 2:12:41), will be back as well. Cox will be joined by Mark Coogan of Attleboro, who finished 19th overall and third among American runners (2:18:58).

Ndereba, who captured her second consecutive Boston title (2:23:53), had a strong 2001 season, becoming only the second woman to run a sub-2:20 marathon (2:18.47 at the Chicago Marathon Oct. 7).

Men’s Open Field

Personal Best

Fred Kiprop, Kenya 2:06:47 (Amsterdam, 1999)
Andres Espinosa, Mexico 2:07:19 (Boston, 1994)
Lee Bong-Ju, Korea 2:07:20 (Tokyo, 2000)
Peter Githuka, Kenya 2:08:02 (Chicago, 2000)
Simon Bor, Kenya 2:08:47 (Amsterdam, 1998)
Ben Kimondiu, Kenya 2:08:52 (Chicago, 2001)
Noriaki Igarashi, Japan 2:09:26 (Fukuoka, 2000)
Silvio Guerra, Ecuador 2:09:49 (Chicago, 1997)
Rodgers Rop, Kenya 2:09:51 (New York, 2001)
Joshua Chelang’a, Kenya 2:10:29 (Boston, 2001)
David Kiptum Busienei, Kenya 2:10:38 (Amsterdam, 2000
Makhosonke Fika, S. Africa 2:10:39 (Paris, 1999)
Mbarak Hussein, Kenya 2:10:45 (San Diego, 1999)
Christopher Cheboiboch, Kenya 2:10:50 (Venice, 2000)
Laban Nkete, S. Africa 2:12:30 (Boston, 2000)
Abner Chipu, S. Africa 2:12:45 (Boston, 1999)
Motsehi Moeketsana, S. Africa 2:12:47 (Berlin, 2000)
Luis Fonseca, Venezuela 2:12:59 (Cleveland, 2001)
Mark Coogan, United States 2:13:05 (Charlotte, 1996)
Getachew Kebede, Ethiopia 2:13:37 (San Diego, 2001)
Josh Cox, United States 2:13:55 (Chicago, 2000)

Women’s Open Field

Personal Best

Catherine Ndereba, Kenya 2:18:47 (Chicago, 2001)
Esther Wanjiru Maina, Kenya 2:23:31 (Osaka, 2000)
Margaret Okayo, Kenya 2:24:21 (New York, 2001)
Elfenesh Alemu, Ethiopian 2:24:29 (London, 2001)
Nuta Olaru, Romania 2:25:18 (London, 2001)
Irina Timofeyeva, Russia 2:25:29 (Tokyo, 2001)
Bruna Genovese, Italy 2:25:35 (Tokyo, 2001)
Sun Yingjie, China 2:25:45 (Tianjin, 1998)
Malgorzata Sobanska, Poland 2:26:08 (Chicago, 2001)
Ari Ichihashi, Japan 2:27:02 (Seville, 1999)
Jill Gaitenby, United States 2:36:45 (Boston, 2001)

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