13 Boston Marathon Champions To Race Historic Fall 125th Boston Marathon

The 125th Boston Marathon will make history as the first Abbott World Marathon Major event to offer equal $50,000 course record bonuses across open and wheelchair divisions

The Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) has announced that 13 Boston Marathon champions with a combined 30 first-place Boston finishes will headline the John Hancock Professional Athlete Team for the 125th Boston Marathon. The accomplished group includes World Athletics Marathon champions, Paralympic medalists, Abbott World Marathon Majors winners, and Olympians.

The Monday, October 11th Boston Marathon will also feature restructured prize money awards that will recognize and celebrate world class performances in Boston, while maintaining the largest prize purse of the Abbott World Marathon Majors. Among the incentives that will debut in October are equal course record bonuses for the Open and Wheelchair Divisions and the introduction of prize money for the inaugural Para Athletics Divisions. The Boston Marathon will make history as the first Abbott World Marathon Major event to offer equal $50,000 course record bonuses across open and wheelchair divisions, and the first event to provide a designated prize purse for athletes with upper limb, lower limb, and visual impairments. For the 36th year, the prize money awards will be provided by principal sponsor John Hancock.

“We are delighted to welcome so many champions from such a diverse range of competition back to Boston for the 125th running of the Boston Marathon,” said Tom Grilk, B.A.A. President and Chief Executive Officer. “While October’s race marks a long-awaited return to racing, it will also recognize and celebrate the many world-class athletes competing for an historic prize purse across multiple divisions.”

“The John Hancock Professional Team continues to be a symbol of athletic excellence and accomplishment,” said Kate Ardini, Chief Marketing Officer at John Hancock. “We are proud to welcome these 13 champions back to Boston for what will be a memorable 125th Boston Marathon in October.”


Joining a competitive field at the Hopkinton starting line will be four of the last five women’s open champions: American Desiree Linden (2018), a five-time, top-five finisher and two-time Olympian; Kenyan Edna Kiplagat (2017), a two-time World Athletics Marathon Championships gold medalist and three-time Abbott World Marathon Majors series champion; Kenyan Caroline Rotich (2015), who also won the 2010 B.A.A. Half Marathon; and Atsede Baysa (2016), the 2010 Bank of America Chicago Marathon champion and two-time Paris champion.

“I can't wait to line up in this year's historic fall edition of the Boston Marathon,” said Linden. “Experience goes a long way in Boston and lining up with so many great champions, who have proven they know how to win on this course, will be an extra challenge on race day. I'm training hard and more motivated than ever to be ready to put together a memorable performance this October.”

In the women’s wheelchair race, two-time champion and course record holder Manuela Schär returns to defend her title. Schär, a three-time Paralympic medalist for Switzerland, won Boston in 2017 and 2019 and is the only woman ever to have clocked a sub-1:30 marathon. Also among the wheelchair contenders is five-time Boston champion and 17-time Paralympic medalist Tatyana McFadden, who will race the 400m, 800m, 1500m, 5000m, and marathon at the Tokyo Paralympic Games for Team USA.

“I feel very blessed to be able to witness such a huge step towards equality and recognition of our sport,” said Schär of the equal course record bonuses. “The Boston Marathon has always played a big role when it comes to ‘first times in history.’ After such a long time of not being able to race marathons, this will make it extra special to return to the streets of Boston and I can’t wait.”


A trio of men’s open champions with lifetime bests under 2:07:30 return with hopes of earning a second Boston Marathon title. Kenya’s Geoffrey Kirui, the 2017 Boston winner and 2017 World Athletics Marathon champion, enters with a lifetime best of 2:06:27. From Ethiopia is Lemi Berhanu, best known for skipping across the Boylston Street finish en route to winning in 2016. Yuki Kawauchi, winner of more than 30 international marathons and the Japanese record holder in the 50K, looks to become the first man from Japan since Toshihiko Seiko in 1987 to earn two Boston Marathon titles.

“Last year was a tough one for everyone. Boston is, for me, the exact right motivation and light at the end of the tunnel, as it will be for all returning champions and participants,” said Kirui. “This is the marathon where I feel at home, and I have big dreams for October.”

Four men’s wheelchair champions with a combined 16 titles will also return on October 11. Defending champion Daniel Romanchuk of Illinois leads the charge. A 2016 and 2021 Paralympian for Team USA, Romanchuk made history by winning the 2019 race and Abbott World Marathon Majors Series XII at just 20 years old. Course record holder Marcel Hug of Switzerland returns looking for his fifth victory, having won four straight Bostons from 2015 through 2018. Ernst van Dyk of South Africa, the most decorated champion in race history with ten titles, also will compete, alongside 2012 winner and former course record holder Josh Cassidy of Canada.

"As a young wheelchair racer, if someone said 'marathon,' I thought 'Boston.' It has always been on the leading edge of inclusion as the first major marathon to have a wheelchair division, and it's so incredible to see it setting the example again as the first major marathon to have pay equity between the runners and wheelchair division for the course record,” said Romanchuk. “I can't wait to join everyone else racing from Hopkinton toward that finish line on Boylston Street again!"



  • Edna Kiplagat
    • PERSONAL BEST: 2:19:50 (London, 2012)
    • COUNTRY: Kenya
    • BOSTON WINS: 2017
  • Atsede Baysa
    • PERSONAL BEST: 2:22:03 (Chicago, 2012)
    • COUNTRY: Ethiopia
    • BOSTON WINS: 2016
  • Desiree Linden
    • PERSONAL BEST: 2:22:38 (Boston, 2011)
    • BOSTON WINS: 2018
  • Caroline Rotich
    • PERSONAL BEST: 2:23:22 (Chicago, 2012)
    • COUNTRY: Kenya
    • BOSTON WINS: 2015


  • Lemi Berhanu
    • PERSONAL BEST: 2:04:33 (Dubai, 2016)
    • COUNTRY: Ethiopia
    • BOSTON WINS: 2016
  • Geoffrey Kirui
    • PERSONAL BEST: 2:06:27 (Amsterdam, 2016)
    • COUNTRY: Kenya
    • BOSTON WINS: 2017
  • Yuki Kawauchi
    • PERSONAL BEST: 2:07:27 (Otsu, 2021)
    • COUNTRY: Japan
    • BOSTON WINS: 2018



  • Manuela Schär
    • PERSONAL BEST: 1:28:17 (Boston, 2017)
    • COUNTRY: Switzerland
    • BOSTON WINS: 2017, 2019
  • Tatyana McFadden
    • PERSONAL BEST: 1:31:30 (Grandma’s, 2019)
    • BOSTON WINS: 2013-2016, 2018


  • Marcel Hug
    • PERSONAL BEST: 1:18:04 (Boston, 2017)
    • COUNTRY: Switzerland
    • BOSTON WINS: 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
  • Ernst Van Dyk
    • PERSONAL BEST: 1:18:04 (Boston, 2017)
    • COUNTRY: South Africa
    • BOSTON WINS: 2001-2006, 2008-2010, 2014
  • Josh Cassidy
    • PERSONAL BEST: 1:18:25 (Boston, 2012)
    • COUNTRY: Canada
    • BOSTON WINS: 2012
  • Daniel Romanchuk
    • PERSONAL BEST: 1:21:36 (Boston, 2019)
    • BOSTON WINS: 2019

For the 36th year, John Hancock will serve as principal sponsor of the Boston Marathon. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 Boston Marathon was moved from its traditional date of the third Monday in April to Monday, October 11. The fall race will feature a field size of 20,000 participants, as well as a rolling start for the first time. The in-person race will be complemented by a virtual race, which will be held from Friday, October 8 through Sunday, October 10. The full international field, including the Para Athletics Divisions field, will be announced the week of August 9-16.