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The Boston Globe

Boston Marathon

Elite runners to watch in the Boston Marathon

The elite runners will embark on their Boston Marathon treks from Hopkinton on Monday.

Bill Greene/Globe Staff

The elite runners will embark on their Boston Marathon treks from Hopkinton on Monday.

The Boston Globe examines the elite runners who could be a factor in the 2012 Boston Marathon:

MEN TO WATCH

Geoffrey Mutai

Age: 30

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Country: Kenya

Boston Marathon: 1st in 2011 (2:03:02).

Of note: Mutai turned in the fastest Boston Marathon time in history last year, but didn’t stop there; he set the course record at the New York City Marathon with a time of 2:05:06, becoming the first man in history to break the course records at both Boston and New York City in the same year.

Gebregziabher Gebremariam

Age: 27

Country: Ethiopia

Boston Marathon: Third in 2011 (2:04:53).

Of note: Gebremariam, who won New York in his United States debut in 2010 (2:08:14), took more than three minutes off his personal best running Boston last year. He and his wife, Werknesh Kidane, who also ran in last year’s Boston Marathon, became the fastest husband-wife marathoners in history by running a combined time of 4:31:08.

Tadese Tola

Age: 24

Country: Ethiopia

Boston Marathon: DNF in 2011.

Of note: Tola made his marathon debut in Chicago in 2009, finishing ninth in 2:15:48. Since then he has continued to improve, winning the 2010 Paris Marathon and placing second in Frankfurt six months later. Tola enters Boston coming off a personal best of 2:05:10 at the Dubai Marathon in January.

Levy Matebo

Age: 22

Country Kenya

Boston Marathon: Debut.

Of note: Since October of 2010, Matebo has three top-two finishes with wins at the 2010 Brussels Marathon and 2011 Barcelona Marathon and a runner-up in the 2011 Frankfurt Marathon, where he set a personal best of 2:05:16. Matebo runs for the Police Team in Kenya.

Wilson Chebet

Age: 26

Country: Kenya

Boston Marathon: Debut.

Of note: Chebet, a well-accomplished half marathoner, has successfully transitioned into full marathons. The 26-year-old finished runner-up in his first marathon attempt in Amsterdam in 2010 and followed that performance with consecutive wins in 2011, at the Rotterdam Marathon and Amsterdam Marathon, earning the nickname, ‘’Mr. Amsterdam’’ from his Dutch fans.

Dickson Chumba

Age: 25

Country: Kenya

Boston Marathon: Debut.

Of note: Chumba followed up a disappointing DNF in the 2011 Chicago Marathon with a seventh-place finish later that month at the Frankfurt Marathon, where he set a new personal best (2:07:23). The 25-year-old, who worked as a gardener before turning his focus to professional running, most recently placed runner-up at the 2012 Xiamen International Marathon..

Laban Korir

Age: 26

Country: Kenya

Boston Marathon: Debut.

Of note: Korir, who began his career as a half marathon specialist, turned in an impressive time of 2:06:05 in his marathon debut in Amsterdam last October, where he finished runner-up. Korir’s time was the third-fastest marathon debut ever, behind 2011 Boston runner-up Moses Mosop and 2003 Chicago winner Evans Rutto.

Wesley Korir

Age: 29

Country: Kenya

Boston Marathon: Debut.

Of note: Korir was an All-America runner while attending the University of Louisville in 2007, graduating with a degree in biology. Korir ran the fourth-fastest time overall in the 2008 Chicago Marathon competing in the open division (2:13:53). He has since placed in the top six in Chicago three times, with his best time coming in 2011 (2:06:15).

Bernard Kipyego

Age: 25

Country: Kenya

Boston Marathon: Debut.

Of note: Kipyego is one of the most well-rounded runners in the field, with a bronze medal in the 2007 IAAF World Cross Country Championships and a silver medal in the 2009 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships. In four marathons Kipyego has twice found the podium, most recently with a third-place showing (2:06:29) in Chicago last October.

David Barmasai

Age: 23

Country: Kenya

Boston Marathon: Debut.

Of note: Barmasai burst on to the marathon scene, wining his first three events before placing fifth (2:11:39) at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu last fall. At just 23, Barmasai looks primed to be a serious contender in Boston for many years to come.

WOMEN TO WATCH

Caroline Kilel

Age: 31

Country: Kenya

Boston Marathon: First in 2011 (2:22:36).

Of note: Kilel, who has been competing in marathons for more than 10 years, won Boston last year in dramatic fashion, trading the lead with Desiree Davila down Boylston Street. Her time of 2:22:36 is the fourth fastest on the course. Kilel finished sixth at the New York City Marathon last November.

Georgina Rono

Age: 31

Country: Kenya

Boston Marathon: Debut.

Of note: 2011 was a breakthrough year for Rono, who shaved more than six minutes off her personal best time when she set the course record at the Eindhoven Marathon, with a time of 2:24:33. The 31-year-old also won the Hanover Marathon and made podium appearances in three other marathons last year (Greece, Marrakesh, and Carpi).

Alevtina Biktimirova

Age: 29

Country: Russia

Boston Marathon: Sixth in 2006 (2:26:58); and second in 2008 (2:25:27).

Of note: Biktimirova is back at the Boston Marathon after giving birth to a son in November 2010. Prior to the birth of her son, Biktimirova won the 2010 Tokyo Marathon (2:34:39) despite severe weather conditions. The 29-year-old is coached by Valeriy Grigoryev, who is the husband of 2007 Boston Marathon champion Lidiya Grigoryev.

Sharon Cherop

Age: 28

Country: Kenya

Boston Marathon: Third in 2011 (2:22:42).

Of note: Cherop had a strong 2011, placing third in both Boston and the IAAF World Championships in Daegu. Cherop is coming off a personal best in January at the Dubai Marathon, where she finished in 2:22:39. Cherop runs for the Kenyan Armed Forces and plans to work for the army when she retires from running.

Ashu Kasim

Age: 27

Country: Ethiopia

Boston Marathon: Debut.

Of note: Kasim has never competed in a World Marathon Major, but enters Boston following a first-place finish at the Xiamen International Marathon in January, where she set a personal best of 2:23:09. Kasim finished runner-up to countrywoman Mamitu Daska in the 2011 Houston Marathon. She’ll have another shot at her in Boston.

Firehiwot Dado

Age: 28

Country: Ethiopia

Boston Marathon: Debut.

Of note: Just 28, Dado already has five first-place finishes under her belt, including the 2011 New York Marathon, where she turned in a personal best of 2:23:15, the fastest time for an Ethiopian woman on the course. Dado has won the last three marathons she’s entered (2010 Florence, 2011 Rome, and 2011 NYC).

Buzunesh Deba

Age: 24

Country: Ethiopia

Boston Marathon: Debut.

Of note: Deba burst onto the marathon circuit three years ago and already has eight wins on United States soil, four of which came in 2010. Deba lives in the Bronx, and narrowly missed winning the New York City Marathon in 2011 as countrywoman Firehiwot Dado finished four seconds ahead.

Rita Jeptoo

Age: 31

Country: Kenya

Boston Marathon: First in 2006 (2:23:38); third in 2008 (2:26:34); and fourth in 2007 (2:33:08).

Of note: Jeptoo, who went from narrowly missing the 2006 Boston Marathon because of passport issues to winning it by 10 seconds, is back competing at a high level after taking 2008-10 off for maternity leave. With three top-fives in Boston, Jeptoo has as much experience on the course as any of the elite runners.

Agnes Kiprop

Age: 32

Country: Kenya

Boston Marathon: 11th in 2010 (2:33:21)

Of note: Kiprop has found the podium in six of her seven career marathons, only failing to place in Boston in 2010. She looks primed to redeem herself here after turning in a personal best of 2:23:54 in the Frankfurt Marathon last October, where she finished runner-up.

Caroline Rotich

Age: 27

Country: Kenya

Boston Marathon: Fourth in 2011 (2:24:26).

Of note: Rotich ran in three marathons last year with mixed results. She followed up a fourth-place finish in Boston with a 29th-place showing at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu, and then finished seventh in the New York City Marathon, but with her second-fastest time of 2:27:06. Rotich regularly trains in Santa Fe.

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