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All Eyes On Boston As Geoffrey Mutai Ready to Roll!

 Boston Marathon Champions Returning
to Boston

 

Class of 1972 Women Among Those To Be Honored.

Joan Samuelson Joins Boston Marathon Field.

Meb Keflezighi to Serve as Grand Marshal.

 

 

BOSTON ‰ÛÓ The Boston Athletic
Association (B.A.A.)
today announced that several former champions of the Boston Marathon
will be returning to Boston
and participating in the events surrounding the 116th running of the
world’s oldest annual marathon on April 16, 2012.

 

Notably, inaugural Olympic gold medalist Joan Samuelson has entered this
year’s Boston Marathon and will run on Monday.  Samuelson won the
1979 and 1983 Boston Marathons before winning Olympic Games Marathon in Los Angeles in 1984. 
Samuelson also ran the 2011 Boston Marathon, finishing in 2:51:29. 
Samuelson has been a member of principal sponsor John Hancock Financial
Service’s Elite Team and is one of the sport’s most recognized and
popular personalities.  She has remained a competitive athlete for more
than three decades.

 

The B.A.A. will honor the 40th anniversary of the 76th
Boston Marathon in 1972, the first year women were officially allowed to
compete in the historic race. Nina Kuscsik, who won in 1972, will be joined by
fellow pioneers and members of the 1972 women’s field Kathrine Switzer,
Pat Barrett, Sara Mae Berman, and Valerie Rogosheske. The group of pioneering
women, along with the Boston Marathon’s first female participant Bobbi
Gibb, will be recognized at the annual Champions’ Breakfast on Saturday,
April 14.  The “Class of 1972” will also make public
appearances in Hopkinton on Friday evening and at the John Hancock Sports &
Fitness Expo on Saturday afternoon.

 

“We are especially proud to be welcoming back most of the female
participants from the first year in which women were officially able to compete
and be recognized in the Boston Marathon,” said Joann Flaminio, B.A.A.
President. “These women blazed a trail for all women distance runners and
forever and positively changed our race.”

 

Former winners Olavi Suomalainen of Finland
(1972) and Allison Roe of New
Zealand (1981) will also receive honors at
this year’s B.A.A. Champions’ Breakfast. Olavi Suomalainen, who
took the olive wreath in 1972, broke away from Colombia’s
Victor Manuel Mora near Boston
College to finish first
in 2:15:29. He became the first Finnish winner at Boston in a decade. Allison Roe triumphed
over Patti Catalano with a course record time of 2:26:46 in 1981. Because of
the devastation caused by an earthquake in her native country of New Zealand,
she was unable to receive her honors at the 2011 Champions’ Breakfast.

 

This year also marks the 100th anniversary of Michael J.
Ryan’s victory over a mud and slush-soaked Boston Marathon course in
1912. Ryan will be represented at the Champions’ Breakfast by four of his
great-grandchildren: Amy Ryan Kadner, Laura Ryan Chimento, Mike Ryan, and Katie
Ryan Mishkin. They will all run this year’s Boston Marathon in his
memory. The first-place trophy won by Michael Ryan in 1912 was flown by the
B.A.A. to Boston
for the weekend, and will be on display at various functions.

 

“Our champions honor us by their presence,” said Tom Grilk, Executive Director of the B.A.A. 
“We look forward to celebrating and remembering their accomplishments
this weekend and showcasing them at our events and on race day.”

 

Defending champions Geoffrey Mutai, of Kenya (men’s open race);
Caroline Kilel, of Kenya (women’s open race); Masuzumi Soejima, of Japan
(men’s wheelchair division race); and Wakako Tsuchida, of Japan (women’s
wheelchair division race) also will be in attendance at the B.A.A.’s
Champions’ Breakfast on race day to officially and ceremonially receive
their top-seeded bibs for Monday’s race.

 

In addition to these honorees at the Champions’ Breakfast, the B.A.A.
will pay tribute to the late John J. Kelley, the only B.A.A. Club Member to win
the Boston Marathon. Kelley established a new course record of 2:20:05 with his
win in 1957. He was the runner-up at the Boston Marathon on five occasions.
Kelley also competed in the 1956 and 1960 Olympic Games, won the 1959 Pan
American Games, and garnered eight consecutive U.S. Marathon titles. Known as
John “The Younger,” Kelley was not related to fellow Boston
Marathon legend, John A. Kelley. John J. Kelley passed away at the age of 80 on
August 21, 2011. The 1968 Boston Marathon champion, Amby Burfoot, will provide
remarks on Kelley’s passing at the Champions’ Breakfast. 
Kelley was Burfoot’s mentor and friend and both were from Connecticut.

 

Additionally,
American Mebrahtom “Meb” Keflezighi
will serve as the grand marshal for the 2012 Boston Marathon. The B.A.A.
has
reserved the grand marshal role as a position of recognition and honor.
Keflezighi will ride in a Nissan pace car ahead of the lead runners,
heralding
to spectators along the course that thousands of runners will soon be
coming.
Following his recent victory at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Team Trials in
Houston, Keflezighi will represent the United States at the Olympic
Games in London this summer. He is
a three-time Olympian and the silver medalist in the 2004 Olympic
Marathon. He
was the 2009 New York City Marathon champion and has competed in the
Boston
Marathon twice, placing third in 2006 and fifth in 2010.

 

Many other Boston Marathon champions, legends, pioneers, and significant
figures in race history will also be in town during race week, participating in
a number of ways at various events, including running in the B.A.A. 5K on
Sunday morning.

 

 

Established
in 1887, the Boston Athletic Association is a non-profit
organization with a mission of managing athletic events and promoting a
healthy
lifestyle through sports, especially running. The B.A.A.’s Boston
Marathon is the world’s oldest annual
marathon, and the organization manages other local events and supports
comprehensive charity, youth, and year-round running programs. Since
1986, the
principal sponsor of the Boston Marathon has been John Hancock
Financial. The Boston Marathon is part of the World Marathon Majors
along
with the Virgin London Marathon, BMW Berlin Marathon, Bank of America
Chicago Marathon, and the ING New
York City Marathon.

 

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