Top contenders in Monday’s Boston Marathon

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    Associated Press

    BOSTON (AP) _ Leading runners in Monday’s 108th Boston Marathon.

    ^Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot, 25, [email protected] _ Defending champion who hopes to become the first men’s winner to repeat since countryman Cosmas Ndeti won three straight from 1993-1995. … Led a Kenyan sweep of the top five spots last year, pulling away from Benjamin Kosgei Kimutai in the closing miles to win by 23 seconds. … His victory made him 2-for-2 in career marathons, after a win in Milan in 2002. … Finished third in Milan last year.

    ^Benjamin Kosgei Kimutai, 33, [email protected] _ Stayed with winner Cheruiyot for 20 miles before finishing second, 23 seconds back in Boston last year. … In Amsterdam 2002, he ran one of the fastest winning debuts in history, and his 2:07:26 there makes him the fastest man in the field.

    ^Mohamed Ouaadi, 35, [email protected] _ A Moroccan who joined the French Foreign Legion in 1995 to gain French citizenship and has since become one of the best marathoners in French history. … Won in Reims (1998) and Paris (2000) and was a runner-up by 1 second to Gezahegne Abera at Fukuoka in 1999. … Eighth in the 2000 Olympics. … Had knee surgery in 2003.

    ^Rodgers Rop, 28, [email protected] _ Won in Boston and New York in 2002. Celebrated by naming his son “Boston.” … World record-holder at 25 kilometers (1:13:44).

    ^Hailu Negussie, 24, [email protected] _ Has won three of the six marathons in which he’s competed. … Fourth-fastest personal best in the field. … Biggest win was in March of 2003, at the Xiamen International Marathon, which also served as the Chinese National Championships.

    ^Laban Kipkemboi, 26, [email protected] _ Third in New York in 2002. … Won the Boston Athletic Association Half Marathon in a course record 63:04 last October. … Trains with fellow 2004 Boston competitors Timothy Cherigat and Stephen Kiogora and is coached by Dieter Hogen, who also coached Uta Pippig to her three Boston Marathon victories.

    ^Martin Lel, 25, [email protected] _ Won Lisbon Half Marathon last spring, then finished third in his Boston debut. … Followed with gold medal at the World Half Marathon Championships and a victory in New York. … Outsprinted marathon world record-holder Paul Tergat to win the Trofeo Sant’Agata 11K in Sicily.


    ^Catherine Ndereba, 31, [email protected] _ Two-time Boston champion (2000-01). … First Kenyan _ male or female _ to win gold in the World Championship marathon, setting a championship record 2:23:55. … Runner-up last year at London and New York. … Has run under 2:20 three times, setting a world record in 2:18:47 in Chicago 2001. … Still the second-fastest woman in history. … Has already been named to Kenya’s 2004 Olympic marathon team.

    ^Jelena Prokopcuka, 27, [email protected] _ Latvian record-holder in the marathon, half-marathon and 20K on the roads plus the 3,000, 5,000 and 10,000 meters on the track. … Competed in the 1996 and 2000 Olympics at 5,000 and 10,000, and plans to compete at 10,000 in Athens. … Married to Aleksander Prokopcuk, the Latvian record-holder in the men’s marathon.

    ^Elfenesh Alemu, 28, [email protected] _ Won the 2003 Tokyo Women’s Marathon. … Married Olympic gold medalist Gezahegne Abera last June in front of 25,000 people in the Addis Ababa stadium. … Fifth in the World Championship marathon in 1999. … Sixth at the 2000 Olympics. … Second to Ndereba’s World Record in Chicago in 2001.

    ^Lyubov Denisova, 32, [email protected] _ Second in Boston last year, then fifth in New York. … Won Long Beach (2001), Grandma’s (2001) and the Los Angeles Marathon (2002).

    ^Leah Malot, 31, [email protected] _ Marathon debut. … Won All-African Games 10,000 meters in 1987 when she was just 15. … Kenyan record-holder in 5,000 meters. … Runner-up in 2003 Lisbon Half Marathon. … Will compete for Kenya at 10,000 meters in Athens.

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