Boston Marathon: Women's Elite Race Preview | Athletes & Storylines To Watch
Who and what to watch for in the elite women's race at the 2022 Boston Marathon.
This is the CITIUS MAG Newsletter by Chris Chavez. If you’ve been forwarded this email or stumbled upon a link online, you can sign up and subscribe here:
Happy Wednesday, friends. After last Friday’s newsletter, I figured I would follow up with a recap of the USATF Bermuda Games but it was honestly very disappointing. The windy conditions led to some absurd wind readings and slow times in the sprints across the board. World champion and Olympic silver medalist Grant Holloway took to Twitter pleading with USATF to flip the track so that athletes would race with the wind at their backs. No change was made and so he decided not to compete, which was a bummer since he’s one of the most entertaining athletes in the sport. The best performance of the day was Olympic champion Jasmine Camacho-Quinn running a world-leading 12.67 in the 100m hurdles despite a -2.5 m/sec headwind. Full results of the meet can be found here. Similarly, you can also read Kyle Merber’s take on it in today’s edition of The Lap Count.
For this weekend, track action continues at the USATF Golden Games as part of the Mt. SAC Relays, but we’ll turn the main focus of our attention to the Boston Marathon on Monday (April 18). It’s one of the best weekends of the year and this year’s field is one of the best ever due to the fact that there’s no London Marathon this spring. As an added bonus, the weather is looking good for race day – as of Wednesday afternoon’s forecasts.
For those wondering about CITIUS MAG’s plans in Boston, we will have a live recording of Dana Giordano’s More Than Running Podcast on Sunday with U.S. Olympian and Brooks sports marketing manager Julie Culley + a live alternate broadcast on the CITIUS MAG YouTube channel on Monday where you can mute your TV and geek out with me, Dana, Kyle and a few more guests. But onto the race itself!
You’ll be able to watch the races live as they will be televised on USA Network or you can stream it on Peacock, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app. The pro men will go off first at 9:37 before the pro women race at 9:45 a.m. ET.
I will send out the men’s preview tomorrow.
The women’s race features four women with personal bests under 2:20 and promises to be a good one, so let’s get into it and examine who the favorites and major players will be:
Peres Jepchirchir, Kenya (Personal Best: 2:17:16 from the 2020 Valencia Marathon)
Last year, she solidified her status as the best female marathoner in the world by winning gold at the Tokyo Olympics (and beating world record holder Brigid Kosgei in the process) and then following that up with a victory at the New York City Marathon. She has the fastest personal best in the field but also has shown she can win in races without pacemakers, which, as a reminder, Boston doesn’t allow.
Joyciline Jepkosgei, Kenya (Personal best: 2:17:43 from the 2021 London Marathon)
Jepkosgei really popped onto the international road racing scene when she set the half marathon world record in 2017, creating plenty of excitement about her marathon potential. Since then, she’s backed it up well. She won the 2019 New York City Marathon, finished second to Jepchirchir at the 2020 Valencia Marathon and then won last year’s London Marathon in a personal best of 2:17:43. So she’s either won or finished second in every marathon she’s finished.
Other Major Contenders
Degitu Azimeraw, Ethiopia (Personal best: 2:17:58, 2021 London Marathon)
At last year’s London Marathon, Azimeraw dropped her personal best by 88 seconds from 2:19:26 to 2:17:58 to finish second behind Jepkosgei. It was her first World Marathon Majors appearance after being forced to miss the 2020 edition of the race due to a positive COVID test before leaving Ethiopia for London. She is just 23 years old and competes for the NN Running Team. She may be Ethiopia’s best shot to win after Roza Dereje (4th at the Tokyo Olympics) withdrew from the race.
Viola Cheptoo, Kenya (Personal best: 2:22:44 from the 2021 New York City Marathon)
One of the sweetest moments of the 2021 New York City Marathon was Viola Cheptoo crossing the finish line for second place in her marathon debut and running into the arms of her brother, U.S. distance running legend Bernard Lagat. It’s easy to overlook Cheptoo, as she sits at No. 8 based on her personal best within the elite field, but if she’s still in it when the finish line comes within view, to overlook her would be a big mistake. The New York finish came down to a kick within the last 800 meters so we know she can stick with even the likes of Jepchirchir late in a race.
Ababel Yeshaneh, Ethiopia (Personal best: 2:20:51 from the 2019 Chicago Marathon)
Yeshaneh was added to the field earlier this month when several withdrawals were announced. The Ethiopian star was the runner-up to Brigid Kosgei when she ran the women’s marathon world record at the 2019 Chicago Marathon. She was also in the mix with Cheptoo and Jepchirchir within the final mile of the New York City Marathon before fading somewhat to third place. The only real blemish on her record coming into this race was a DNF at the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon in February.
Edna Kiplagat, Kenya (Personal best: 2:19:50 from the 2012 London Marathon)
I feel the need to include Edna Kiplagat as a contender because even at 42 years old, she can’t be discounted. The two-time world champion won this race in 2017 and finished second in 2019 and 2021. Experience goes a long way on this course, and this will be her fifth Boston. She tuned up for this race with a 9th place showing in 70:22 at the NYC Half on March 20, on a course that decently approximates Boston’s late, rolling hills.
Mary Wacera Ngugi, Kenya (Personal best: 2:25:20 from the 2021 Boston Marathon)
Normally, a runner with a 2:25 personal best would not be considered a major contender in a major, but the key here is that Ngugi ran her PB last year in Boston, where she finished third. So she knows the course and she has proven Boston credentials, and since Boston is run without pacemakers, a slower early pace could play right into her favor. Ngugi is also a great athlete to cheer for as she has been an outspoken advocate for women experiencing domestic violence.
Team USA VS. THE WORLD
Molly Seidel, USA (Personal best 2:24:42 from the 2021 New York City Marathon)
If there’s anyone who will get to feed off a home-field advantage, it will be Seidel. She spent a few years in Boston after graduating from Notre Dame and signing her first professional contract. She’s established herself as the US’s best championship-style marathoner over the past year with her bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics and then a fourth-place finish in New York, despite running with broken ribs. Seidel has since been largely out of the spotlight, diving deep into her training block in Flagstaff, Arizona, and hasn’t run a tuneup race after withdrawing from the NYC Half with a minor issue. In all likelihood, she’d need another huge performance to land on the podium here, but given her credentials and recent form, she’s a safe bet for top American even on a slightly off day.
Des Linden, USA (Personal best: 2:22:38 from the 2011 Boston Marathon)
This week on The CITIUS MAG Podcast, I caught up with Linden ahead of her ninth Boston Marathon. I mentioned to her how it feels like for the first time since her win, the mainstream attention has died down a bit and she can get back to doing what she does best, surprising people after flying under the radar. It hasn’t been a perfect build-up for her, and she’s been in this game a long time. But like I’ve mentioned a few times already, this is a course where experience counts. Linden says she’s put last year’s 17th place finish in 2:35:25 behind her: her focus is going to be to stick her nose in it and fight hard.
Sara Vaughn, USA (Personal best: 2:26:53 from the 2021 California International Marathon)
Vaughn hit a home run in her first crack at the marathon distance last December when she posted the fifth-fastest debut by an American woman. The win and breakthrough were enough to get her a professional contract with Puma. This time last year, she was still focusing on the 1500m and the steeplechase ahead of the Olympic Trials. It appears that now she’s all-in with the roads. She ran 1:12:56 at the NYC Half while running mostly solo. On Tuesday, she wrote on Instagram: “It has not been the perfect training block, but perfection is the enemy. And I’m better for it.”
Nell Rojas, USA (Personal best: 2:27:12 from the 2021 Boston Marathon)
Rojas was the top American woman at last year’s Boston Marathon and took sixth overall. The performance springboarded her to a pro contract with Adidas. She opened 2022 with a half marathon personal best of 69:42. She was sixth at the USATF 15K championships on March 6 and then sixth at the Cooper River Bridge 10K on April 2. She shared with Runner’s World that she hasn’t felt great in buildup races, but that she has been focusing on Boston more specifically in training than in previous years.
Stephanie Bruce, USA (Personal best: 2:27:47 from the 2019 Chicago Marathon)
This will be the final Boston Marathon of Bruce’s professional career. She tuned up for this race with a 10th place finish overall in 70:26 (third American woman) at the NYC Half. She shared on Instagram: “You could say I’ve already achieved all I can at this point in my career but you could also believe there’s a bit more in me. Feeling grateful to be healthy and heading into my last Boston Marathon in just over 10 days.”
Dakotah Lindwurm, USA (Personal best: 2:29:04 from 2021 Grandma’s Marathon)
There are plenty of reasons to be excited about Lindwurm’s potential in the marathon at just 26 years old. She won Grandma’s Marathon last summer and then took 13th at the Boston Marathon. She raced a half marathon the first three months of this year: 69:36 PR for 8th place in Houston in January, 72:28 for 4th place in Atlanta in February and 70:38 for 11th place in New York in March. Look for her to take down a few of the big names ahead of her on this list.
Jepchirchir breaks Jepkosgei in the last 5K to pull away for the win. Seidel and Kiplagat pick off a number of chasers in the last few miles to finish third and fourth.
That’s it from me today. As always, thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this, learned something new, or have any questions or commentary on anything featured in this issue, feel free to hit my inbox by replying or writing to firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to support CITIUS MAG? Consider pledging your support on Patreon or pick up some CITIUS MAG merch. You can also shoot us a tip on Venmo.