It has been 40 years since the first official field of women ran the Boston Marathon. Bobbi Gibb was the first woman to complete the Boston Marathon in 1966 (banditing). Kathrine Switzer was the first women to offically enter and complete the race in 1967 entering under the gender neutral name of K.V. Switzer. It was not until the 1972 Boston Marathon that women could become official entrants due to a change in AAU rules. That year, Nina Kuscsik was the first official female champion beating the other seven women with a time of 3:10:26.
Times have changed; the women’s times have only gotten faster. Russian’s Galina Bogomolova comes in with the fastest seed time of 2:20:47 but it was from Chicago 2006 and appears to be a nonfactor in the race. All eyes will be on return champion, Caroline Kilel. Kilel took victory in a PR of 2:22:36. She returned to Boston in the summer to win the BAA 10K and took third at the Lisbon Half. She most recently was second in a sprint finish in the Houston half marathon with a time of 1:08.28.
Who will rise up to challenge Kilel? Her main competitor from last year, Desiree Davila is off training for the Olympic marathon. Third and fourth from last year do return yet again with Sharaon Cherop and Caroline Rotich running. Cherop stayed close until the final miles last year and maybe this year will be able to move with the surges. Cherop is coming off a third place finish at the World Championships in the marathon and a PR in the Dubai marathon in January with a 2:22.39. Rotich recently finished 8th at the NYC Half marathon in 1:10:17 which was 2 minutes slower than her winning time last year. Kilel main competitor might just be 2011 New York City Marathon winner Firehiwot Dado where she ran a 2:23:15. In early March, she most recently won the NYC Half marathon with a course record of 1:08:35. She won in the last 600 meters where she slipped passed Kim Smith, hitting 10K en route in 32:00.13.
Bill Rodgers has been quoted as saying, “Boston is a course you need to do many times before you get the hang of it.” This might just play into Kilel’s favor. The course is hilly and quick. Last year’s race was lead quickly out by Kim Smith who would ultimately drop out. By mile 17, a group of four runners: two Kenyans and two Ethiopians had separated from the rest of the pack. But by mile 20, Davila had made her way back to the group. Davila tried to drop the whole group but could not shake Kilel. This year’s race could seem a very similar situation with a small group left at the end to out surge each other.
The American field is not as strong as it has been in recent years. The two that seem to lead the field are Mary Akor & Camille Herron. Mary Akor holds a PR of 2:33:50 and has been the women’s winner at Grandma’s Marathon twice. Camille Herron has a PR of 2:37:14 and has victories at the Dallas White Rock, Napa Valley, and Mississippi Blues Marathons. Universal Sports will be broadcasting the marathon starting at 9:30 AM EST.