Deena Kastor, a 34-year-old Waltham native, headlines the field for the 111th running of the Boston Marathon April 16 and will attempt to dethrone defending champion Rita Jeptoo .
Kastor, currently the top-ranked female runner in the world, has 18 US national titles in her career, including this year's cross-country title. She is best known for winning a bronze medal in the 2004 Olympics in Athens ; it was the first US medal in the marathon since Joan Benoit's in 1984. This will be Kastor's first appearance in the Boston Marathon.
Kastor ran the fastest marathon in the world last year, breaking her American record (Kastor holds American records in six events) with a 2:19:36 win in the London Marathon, but the odds are stacked against her in Boston. The last American to win the women's race was Lisa Larsen Weidenbach (2:34:06) in 1985, and six of the last seven have been won by Kenyans.
Jeptoo (Kenya) and Jelena Prokopcuka (Latvia), ranked second and third in the world, respectively, should be Kastor's toughest competition.
Robert Cheruiyot of Kenya looks to defend his title in the men's race. Cheruiyot, who set the course record (2:07:14) last year, has won two of the last four Boston Marathons and is currently the points leader in the World Marathon Majors Series. He also won in Chicago last fall, becoming the first runner to win both marathons in the same year.