The 2013 top female marathoner, Rita Jeptoo, will lead star-studded team of elite runners from Kenya in this year’s Boston Marathon.
Ms Jeptoo, who is last year's Boston marathon winner in the women’s category is among other Kenyan stars like Sharon Cherop who won the marathon in 2012, Caroline Kilel the 2011 winner and Dennis Kimeto whose personal best is Chicago 2013 marathon.
Others are Micah Kogo who was placed second in last year’s Boston marathon and Wilson Chebet whose personal best is Rotterdam 2011.
It is widely expected that the winner in this year’s Boston Marathon in either category will come from one of the above runners even though they face stiff competition from the Ethiopians who have proved in the recent past that they are not a push-over.
According to organisers, most of the elite runners are already in Boston getting used to the weather. They are holed up in their respective training venues.
“The Kenyan Boston Marathon mood is heating up ahead of the weekend celebrations as we gather to welcome and honour our champions. Kenyans are making their way from around the US and Canada and indeed around the world to join their compatriots in the Boston area,” said Wilson Wahome, Director of Run with Kenyans, a company that is hosting the runners to a traditional dinner dubbed ‘Dinner with Champions’ scheduled to take place at Back Bay Events Centre in downtown Boston.
Mr Wahome disclosed that the dinner was overbooked and is therefore closed. “Right now, we are struggling to accommodate some people who had already paid. But we are not complaining because we would rather be oversubscribed than have a half empty hall,” he said.
Mr Wahome said the celebratory mood was being propelled by last weekend’s participation of Kenya’s First Lady Margaret Kenyatta in the London half marathon. “Our First lLdy’s high visibility participation in the London half marathon has definitely given more ‘wind in the sails’ of the Boston marathon and we are grateful to her.
Most government officials we are receiving in Boston are those transiting from London where they cheered our First Lady, ” he said.
Guests expected at the Dinner with Champions party are Mr Tom Grilk, president of Boston Athletics Association (BAA), Sports Cabinet Secretary Dr Hassan Wario Arero and acting Kenyan ambassador to the US, Jean Kamau among other dignitaries.
Beyond the dinner, a large crowd of Kenyans living abroad is expected to attend a free town hall meeting with former Prime minister Raila Odinga who will be discussing devolution and how the diaspora can participate in the development of the counties.
The event which is free to attend will be held at 65 Village St. Lowell, MA is hosted by Nation.co.ke's Diaspora Notebook online show. It will also mark the start of auditions for talent in the diaspora.
Even in normal years, few sporting events attract bigger crowds or more fanfare than the Boston Marathon, which annually draws more than 500,000 spectators and more than 20,000 participants. But this year's race, the first since the bombings that killed three people and injured more than 260, is shaping out to be an extra special one.
On Thursday, US vice president Joe Biden let the country in commemorating the one-year anniversary since the bombing that left three people and scores injured.
It's the 118th running of the race, which is the longest running marathon in the world and the second longest running race, trailing only the Buffalo Turkey Trot. The race takes place on Monday, April 21.