By David Monti, @d9monti
(c) 2016 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

(14-Dec) — Six previous race champions have committed to running next April’s Boston Marathon, including both reigning champions Atsede Baysa and Lemi Berhanu Hayle of Ethiopia, organizers announced today.  The 121st edition of the world’s oldest marathon will be held on Monday, April 17.

In addition to Baysa and Hayle, organizers said that previous race winners Caroline Rotich of Kenya (2015); Buzunesh Deba of Ethiopia (2014); Meb Keflezighi of San Diego, Calif. (2014); and Wesley Korir of Kenya (2012) would also run the race, chasing the $150,000 first prize (equal for men and women), the largest of any marathon in the United States.

“When you win the Boston Marathon, you join a legendary list of the world’s greatest runners,” observed Rob Friedman, head of sponsorship and event marketing at John Hancock Financial, the longtime sponsor of Boston’s elite race. “We welcome back our defending and past champions and the tens of thousands of runners who will join them on Patriots’ Day to run the most historic marathon in the world.”

The Boston Marathon, one of the six commercial marathons of the Abbott World Marathon Majors, is run under championships conditions with no pacemakers.  Boston’s hilly course can combine with unpredictable weather to produce truly dramatic races, some fast and some slow.  Tactics play a big role and athletes literally must think on their feet, like in the Olympics or IAAF World Championships.  The race has been won with bold front-running tactics (Keflezighi), come-from-behind drama (Baysa), and late-race surges (Hayle).

“When six athletes who have so richly enhanced the history of the Boston Marathon are returning to compete again, it’s very exciting,” said Tom Grilk, the chief executive of the Boston Athletic Association which founded and organizes the race. “These are some of the world’s finest runners, and we can’t wait to welcome them back.”

The 2017 Boston Marathon marks the 32nd year of John Hancock’s sponsorship of the race. The elite American field will be announced later this month and the complete elite international field will be announced in January.