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Boston Marathon: Kenenisa Bekele among big names to withdraw

Kenenisa Bekele

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 07: Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia crosses the finish line during the 2021 TCS New York City Marathon in Central Park on November 07, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

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Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, the second-fastest marathoner in history, and Sara Hall, the third-fastest American female marathoner in history, have withdrawn from the Boston Marathon scheduled for April 18.

Bekele’s said he was “just not ready” and wanted to avoid repeating his last marathon in New York City in November, when he finished sixth while running six minutes slower than he did at the Berlin Marathon six weeks earlier. He said in a finish-area interview that day that he had a little hip problem.

“All focus on fall marathon,” his agent said Tuesday. “He knows the next one has to be a good one!”

Bekele, 39, was due to race the world’s oldest annual marathon for the first time.

Bekele, the former 5000m and 10,000m world-record holder on the track, made his marathon debut in 2014 and ascended to win Berlin in 2016 in 2:03:03, then the second-fastest time in history.

Since then, Bekele started eight marathons with these results: a win (in Berlin in 2019 in 2:01:41, missing Eliud Kipchoge‘s world record by two seconds), a runner-up, a third, two sixths and three DNFs. He also withdrew before the 2020 London Marathon.

Hall, 38, cited a tendon injury emanating from tripping on a run in early February and slamming her knee on a rock.

“I want to enjoy this sport for many years, and don’t want to make short-sighed decisions that cut my career short or my ability to enjoy running for many years,” was posted on Hall’s social media.

Hall has been on a tear since dropping out in the 23rd mile of the February 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials.

She finished second at the October 2020 London Marathon in a personal-best 2:22:01. At The Marathon Project in December 2020 in Chandler, Arizona, she ran the then-second fastest marathon ever by an American woman in 2:20:32. Last October, she placed third at the Chicago Marathon.

Keira D’Amato then broke Deena Kastor‘s American record at the Houston Marathon on Jan. 16, the same day that Hall broke Molly Huddle‘s American record in the half marathon in Houston.

Hall ambitiously set out to race both the Tokyo Marathon and the Boston Marathon within seven weeks of each other. In Tokyo, she became the first American woman to break 2:23 in the marathon on a fourth occasion.

“I did everything I could to make it to the line in Tokyo and was able to get away with racing there due to the flat course,” was posted on Hall’s Instagram on Tuesday. “But the course in Boston puts me at great risk of a major setback.”

Hall plans to race the world championships marathon in Eugene, Oregon, in July.

Roza Dereje of Ethiopia, who was fourth at the Olympics, also withdrew from Boston.

The Boston Marathon women’s field is headlined by Kenyans Peres Jepchirchir, the reigning Olympic and New York City Marathon champion, and Joyciline Jepkosgei, the reigning London Marathon champion. Molly Seidel, the Olympic bronze medalist, and Des Linden, the 2018 Boston winner, head the U.S. contingent.

The men are led by Ethiopian Birhanu Legese, the third-fastest marathoner ever, who was announced as added to the field on Tuesday. Countryman Sisay Lemma, the reigning London winner, was also added. Kenyan Lawrence Cherono, the 2019 champion in Boston and Chicago, and veteran world marathon major winners Geoffrey Kamworor and Lelisa Desisa previously entered. Rio Olympian Jared Ward and Scott Fauble are the American headliners.

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