Boston, MA (Sports Network) - Lining the streets of Hopkington to Boston will be thousands and thousands of people, as the Boston Marathon will be run April 15 for the 117th time.
As expected, the field will be loaded with former winners, Olympic medalists and plenty of runners nationwide. Wesley Korir and Sharon Cherop, both from Kenya, will be on hand to defend their men's and women's titles.
Last year, Korir outlegged countryman Levy Matebo by 26 seconds to grab the men's crown in a winning time of 2:12:40. The weather was a big factor, as high temperatures forced 2010 champion Geoffrey Mutai to drop out after 18 miles because of cramps.
Among the Americans in this year's race will be Colorado's Jason Hartmann, who finished a very respectable fourth, less than two minutes behind the winner, and California's Meb Keflezighi, whose highest finish was third in 2006 and had a solid fourth place result in the 2012 London Olympics.
The last American male to win the Boston Marathon was Greg Meyer of Massachusetts in 1983. In fact, between 1968-1983, an American won the great race nine times. Since then, the best U.S. finish was third by Ryan Hall in 2009. Hall has opted not to run the 2013 Boston Marathon for personal reasons.
On the women's side, 2012 Olympian Shalane Flanagan headlines a strong field for the Americans. Flanagan, who finished 10th at the London Olympics, will be making her Boston Marathon debut. Joining Flanagan will be Oregon's Kara Goucher, who finished third in 2009, as well as Serena Burla of Virginia and Alissa McKaig of Indiana.
Last year, Cherop won the women's race in a time of 2:31:50, beating fellow Kenyan Jemima Jelagat Sumgong by just two seconds. Georgina Rono of Kenya came in third with a time of 2:33:09.
The country of Kenya has dominated the Boston Marathon, winning three straight on the men's side and 19 of the last 22. Robert Kiprono Cheruiyot won the race three years in a row (2006-2008), while Ethiopia's Deriba Merga (2009) and Hailu Negussie (2005) and Korea's Lee Bong-Ju (2001) are the only non Kenyans to win the race since 1991.
For the women, Kenya is still the country to beat, but its competition is getting stronger. Since 2000, Kenya has won nine times, including Catherine Ndereba's four victories (2000-01, 04-05). The last American female winner was Michigan's Lisa Larsen Weidenbach in 1985.