Was it just a year ago that I was studying the elite fields for Boston, and venturing out to make my predictions? I hestitated to make Boston predictions this year since I may have been one of the only people in the world to accurately predict the insanely exciting results (well, at least in the men's race) from last year (men's prediction here, women's prediction here), I figured I owed it to the legions of readers to at least take another crack at it.
Marathon Monday is one of my favorite days of the year, even when I'm not running the race. As I posted last year, it's so much fun to track all my friends running Boston. And I even took blurry pictures of my computer screen since my eyes were so full of tears when I saw Meb pull out the victory.
For anyone who wants to read my text recap of last year's Boston to a friend, that post (with those photos) is here; it really is one of my favorites to go back and read. Wow, it was an intense race! Honestly, rereading the texts, I remember those feelings so well. When Meb started pumping his fist at 2:07:30, my tears started flowing. That was the first time I felt like he was safe, that second when I realized that he was in distress, as I'd noted, but that there was SOMETHING left in his tank, and that he wasn't going down. By far, the most exciting sports moment I've ever watched. I actually admitted to my boss that I'm not really working tomorrow. We have a meeting with the president of our division to discuss one of my "scary" cases, and when we were setting it up on Thursday, I basically said I'll be in the office tomorrow, but I'm totally unavailable unless it's an emergency until about 1:00 (I am predicting a 3:40ish finish for the last friend I am tracking). My boss is a HUGE sports fan (mostly baseball, but he listens to sports radio literally ALL DAY in the office, so I think he cares about all the other sports too). And I think because he's a sports day and this is seriously the only sporting event I care about (aside from the Olympic marathon every 4 years), he was okay with me saying I wanted the morning meeting-free.
Anyway, back to Boston.
This year is likely going to be amazing again. The weather looks better than last year, so I think we have a good chance of a new course record. There may be rain, but I don't think that will be a big factor in the elite times. And it's exciting that five past champions are returning to compete this year (3 men, 2 women).
So even though by next tomorrow afternoon, I very well may be thinking I should have gone out on top and not ventured any predictions at all, here it goes with my thoughts on the 2015 Boston Men's Elite field.
Unfortunately, while my whole heart wants Meb Keflezieghi to win again, I just don't think it's in the cards. He has had an amazing training season (at least from what I read on FB), but unfortunately, he's too much of a force to be reckoned with and there is no chance that the Africans are going to let him escape from the lead pack again. I DO think he has a great shot at being among the top runners, and I think he also has a good chance at getting PR.
Can I still just go ahead and make him my official prediction for the win? When I was dating a guy who liked college basketball a lot, we used to make two brackets for March madness -- one we made together based on his predictions based on watching lots of games and listening to endless commentary, and the one I called my "heart" bracket, which was based solely on (in order) cities, schools, mascots and colors that I loved. Meb is definitely winning in my heart 2015 Boston bracket.
But in the interest of venturing an honest prediction, a lot of the guys who would be in my short list of favorites (Kipsang, Mutai, Kimetto) are going to London this year instead of Boston, so I feel like I'm taking more of a shot in the dark this year.
My prediction is Lelisa Desisa. I'm not exactly going out on a limb. Some people would predict Makau, or at least another Kenyan, and I'm predicting an Ethiopian over a Kenyan since I think Desisa has both the strength and the course experience to do it. I'm a little nervous that he's coming too soon off of Dubai, but with a strong race there and good temps in Boston, I think he can do it. He deserves another win in Boston since his 2013 win was overshadowed by the events that happened a couple hours later. But he does have a lot of second places, and I think mentally, it can be hard to break that.
If it's not Desisa, I think it's going to be Chebet. He really made me sweat last year when he was reigning Meb in over the last 5-8k of the course. I would love to see him win. On the books, I think he is the strongest in terms of depth of strong finish times. He's got four wins with times under 2:06. That's incredible. And obviously Kenya is always a force to be reckoned with in the marathon!
So those are my top options. As for others to watch, I said that I liked him last year, and it holds true again this year: I like Gebregziabher Gebremariam mostly because of his name. In terms of less likely options, I'm also rooting for Abderrahime Bouramdane out of Morocco, mostly because this is going to be our Morocco year (assuming we keep that on our Fall trip itinerary).
On the American front, I've liked Dathan Ritzenhein, but I don't expect anything spectacular from him ... this year. Definitely one to watch in the future! Can't wait to see what he does in the Trials next year. Again, I'm 100% Team Meb.
More than anything, as always, I'm just hoping for a wonderfully strong and strategic race to unfold as I watch from my computer in my office!