The fastest-ever women’s professional field for the Boston Marathon was announced Tuesday morning, featuring 12 runners with personal bests below 2:23.
Molly Seidel, the former Bostonian who burst upon the global marathon stage in 2021, will be among the elites in the April 18 race but with a career mark that’s still nearly two minutes shy of that 2:23 threshold.
Seidel, 27, earned an Olympic berth in her first-ever marathon at the 2020 US trials, and then won a bronze medal last summer in Tokyo.
She’ll channel her drive to run faster with her delight in running a course she’s only partially trained on to finish with a time that befits her fresh star power.
“There’s so many areas that I can see where I need to improve,” said Seidel. “That’s why I think it’s kind of funny — like, obviously what happened this past summer at the Olympics, getting third? Honestly, I feel like we’ve only really just started doing ‘real marathon training.’ ”
Seidel’s training in high-altitude Flagstaff, Ariz., over the winter can only help her compete against the likes of Kenya’s Peres Jepchirchir, who won the gold in Tokyo and the New York City Marathon last fall. Seidel finished fourth in New York but broke the American record in the race with a 2:24:42, a personal best that was two minutes slower than Jepchirchir.
Jepchirchir was the fastest women’s marathoner in the world in 2020 with a 2:17:16. She’ll be making her Boston debut, along with 2021′s fastest, countrywoman Joyciline Jepkosgei (2:17:43).
“My high expectations is to be a winner and I would like to arrive at the day of the race in my best shape,” said Jepchirchir in a statement. “I have time enough to prepare for it and I will do my best in training to be ready to run against some of the best marathon runners in the world.”
Seidel says she will be ready no matter what.
“It feels very much like doing my hometown race,” said Seidel. “The marathon is just such a big part of Boston and the Boston running community. You’re kind of immersed in it. Any runner in Boston is like, ‘Oh, are you running the marathon? Oh, are you running the marathon?’
“It’s getting to where I can finally do it and finally say, ‘Yes, I’m running the marathon.’ It’s so exciting. It’s just, I’m really pumped.”
The field also includes 2017 Boston champion Edna Kiplagat, 2018 champion Des Linden, and four sub-2:20 Ethiopians: Degitu Azimeraw, Roza Dereje, Zeineba Yimer, and Tigist Girma.
The 126th Boston Marathon will celebrate 50 years since the inaugural women’s division in 1972, when a total of eight women finished.
“Though there have been many milestones in the five decades since the women’s division was established in Boston, this field of Olympic and Paralympic medalists, Boston champions and global stars will make this a race to remember on Patriots Day,” said Tom Grilk, BAA president and CEO, in a statement.
In addition to Seidel and Linden, other top American runners in the field include Nell Rojas, the first American to cross the finish line at last October’s race and sixth overall; Sara Hall, the second-fastest American marathoner (2:20:32); Kellyn Taylor, who finished in the top 10 at the Olympic trials two years ago; and Stephanie Bruce.
Also at the Hopkinton starting line will be Canadian Olympians Malindi Elmore and Natasha Wodak, and Great Britain’s Charlotte Purdue.
In the wheelchair division, Manuela Schar of Switzerland, who won last year and two other times, will return. Madison de Rozario of Australia, who won the gold in Tokyo, will race, as will five-time Boston winner Tatyana McFadden (United States), Nikita den Boer of the Netherlands, Susannah Scaroni (United States), and Japan’s Wakako Tsuchida.
“It’s always very exciting to return to Boston,” said Schar in a statement. “It will probably be the first race after a very intense 2021 season, so it will be good to see where I stand. I am very eager to return to the roads.”
The race will be run just 181 days after Oct. 11’s race, which completed a longest-ever drought between races at 910 days due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The elite men’s field is expected to be announced later this week.