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They'll take another run at it

'02 champs back for the Marathon

By Reid Laymance, Globe Staff, 3/25/2003

The field of elite runners that was announced yesterday for the 107th Boston Marathon has -- surprise, surprise -- a distinctly Kenyan flair, especially on the men's side, where 11 of the 18 best are from Kenya.

Leading that group is defending champion Rodgers Rop, who followed his win in Boston last year with a victory in the New York City Marathon -- he's only the fourth man to do so.

The women's field is led by Kenya's Margaret Okayo, who set a Boston record last year when she won in 2:20:43. Okayo's challengers include teammate and 2000 Olympic bronze medalist Joyce Chepchumba, Russia's Svetlana Zakharova, and up-and-coming US marathoner Marla Runyan. South Africa's Elana Meyer, twice a runner-up in Boston, will be back.

A pair of recognizable faces from recent Boston races won't be back this year. Korea's Lee Bong Ju, who broke Kenya's 10-year hold on the men's title with his win in 2001, will instead run the London Marathon as he chases a faster time on a flatter course. Also absent will be Kenyan Catherine Ndereba, who won the 2000 and 2001 women's races. She was second last year, 29 seconds behind Okayo.

Among the Kenyans challenging Rop in the men's field are Christopher Cheboiboch, who was second in Boston last year, and two newcomers to Boston: Vincent Kipsos, 26, and Benjamin Kimutai, 32.

Italy's Giacomo Leone, an Olympian, and Ecuador's Silvio Guerra, who has finished second twice in Boston, are also in the elite field, which is sponsored by John Hancock.

The marathon is April 21.

This story ran on page F2 of the Boston Globe on 3/25/2003.
© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.

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