BOSTON, Jan. 8, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- John Hancock Financial today announced the Elite USA Team for the 117th running of the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013. The strong U.S. team, recruited to compete with a deep international field, includes Ryan Hall, Meb Keflezighi, Abdi Abdirahman, Jason Hartmann, Fernando Cabada, Serena Burla, Stephanie Rothstein, and Alissa McKaig. The group joins previously announced Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan.
Ryan Hall has run Boston three times and set an American course record of 2:04:58 with his fourth place finish in 2011. He also placed third in 2009 and fourth in 2010. Hall is a two-time Olympian and holds the North and Central American records in the 20K, the Half Marathon and the 30K. Most recently he finished second at the U.S. Olympic Trials.
"Boston, as with so many other marathoners, holds a special place in my heart and mind," said Hall. "I go back this year eager to experience all that Boston has to offer: the epic crowds, the challenging course, but mainly to be a part of and make history. Having been a part of the fastest marathon ever run on the planet in 2011, I know what is possible at Boston and what can be done on that course. I believe that each time I race Boston I get to know the course better and learn how to race it smarter. I am sure that this year's race will be my best yet."
Meb Keflezighi, a three-time Olympian, placed fifth in Boston in 2010 and third in 2006. Most recently Keflezighi finished fourth at the 2012 London Olympic Marathon after winning the U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon. Other major accomplishments include winning the silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympic Marathon and winning the 2009 New York City Marathon.
"As I come towards the end of my running career, there are still a few goals I want to achieve; winning the Boston Marathon is one of them," said Keflezighi. "The fans and crowds in Boston are amazing! Both times I've run the Boston Marathon I was cheered on enthusiastically. I hope the third time is the charm!"
Abdi Abdirahman, a four-time Olympian, is best known for his 10,000m prowess. He competed in that event at the Olympics for the U.S. in 2000, 2004 and 2008. In 2008, he won the U.S. Olympic Trials 10,000m. Abdirahman has finished top five at both the Chicago and New York City Marathons and most recently finished third at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon.
"I'm so happy to be running the Boston Marathon this spring," said Abdirahman. "It is one of the greatest and oldest marathons in the world and it has long been a dream of mine to run here."
Joining Hall, Keflezighi and Abdirahman on the John Hancock Elite Team is Jason Hartmann and Fernando Cabada.
Jason Hartmann had the U.S. performance of the year at Boston in 2012, placing fourth overall. Competing against the fastest field ever assembled for the event, including 2:03:02 defending champ Geoffrey Mutai, Hartmann ran a strategic race in the extreme heat and steadily moved up through the pack.
"To be able to be a part of the Boston Marathon history was life changing for me," said Hartmann. "My expectation this year is to place as high as I can, and even better than last time."
Fernando Cabada holds his own worthy credentials as the North and Central American record holder in the 25K. He improved his marathon personal best with a seventh place finish at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials and later in the year won the Los Angeles Half Marathon. He has competed on three World Championship teams for the U.S.
On the women's side, previously announced Olympians Kara Goucher and Shalane Flanagan will lead rising stars Serena Burla, Stephanie Rothstein and Alissa McKaig.
Kara Goucher has run Boston twice. She finished third in 2009 and fifth in 2011, in a personal best 2:24:52. That mark ranks her as the fourth fastest American marathoner of all time. A two-time Olympian, Goucher most recently placed third at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials and 11th at the London Olympic Marathon.
Shalane Flanagan is a three-time Olympian and holds North and Central American records in the indoor 3,000m and 5,000m and in the outdoor10,000m. Her 10,000m record was earned during her bronze medal performance at the 2008 Olympics. Flanagan was also runner up in her 2010 marathon debut in New York City and bronze medalist at World Cross Country in 2011. Last year she won the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in an event record 2:25:38 and finished tenth at the London Olympic Marathon.
Serena Burla brings her own compelling story to Boston. An All-American at Missouri University, Burla was diagnosed with a malignant soft-tissue tumor in her hamstring in 2010, shortly after finishing runner up at the U.S. National Half Marathon Championships behind winner Flanagan. After radical surgery and a positive recovery, Burla defied the odds to again finish runner up at the 2011 U.S. Half Marathon Championships. She then had a break-through marathon race in early 2012 with a 2:28:27 third place finish in Seoul, Korea.
Stephanie Rothstein recently made the podium at the 2012 Honolulu Marathon with a strong third-place finish. She also ran to third at the Houston Marathon in 2011, where she set her 2:29:35 personal best. Rothstein has proven she knows how to run against international fields on challenging courses. A member of the World Half Marathon U.S. team in 2010, Rothstein finished top American.
Alissa McKaig finished eighth at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in only her third marathon. A member of the American team for the 2011 World Cross Country Championships, McKaig helped the team earn the bronze medal. She also competed for the U.S. at the 2011 World Marathon Championships in Daegu, Korea. This past December, McKaig won the Jacksonville Half Marathon.
The complete John Hancock international field for the 2013 Boston Marathon will be announced in mid-January.
"For nearly 30 years now, John Hancock, as principal sponsor, has continually recruited the world's top runners to the historic Boston Marathon. This year we are proud to include an exceptionally talented U.S. Team in our elite field," said Rob Friedman, head of Sponsorship and Event Marketing at John Hancock. "The fans who line our course each spring have embraced and adopted runners from all over the globe year after year and it's always nice for them to also cheer on athletes from the 'home team'. This year's field again will be as deep, fast and competitive as ever and we expect it will provide spectators and millions of television and online viewers with another spectacular race. The countdown to April 15th continues."
"Held annually on Patriots' Day since 1897, the Boston Marathon is an international event with deep American roots. We are proud to welcome America's finest marathoners this year - Olympians and rising stars alike - to challenge some of the best runners that the world has to offer," said Tom Grilk, B.A.A. Executive Director." Through the continued support of our principal sponsor, John Hancock Financial Services, and its excellence in recruiting athletes, these outstanding runners will all inspire us all when they come to Boston this April."
The 2013 Boston Marathon marks the 28th year of John Hancock's landmark sponsorship of the legendary race. For additional information about the Elite Athlete Program and sponsorship, please visit www.johnhancock.com/bostonmarathon/sportspartnerships.html or follow us @jhboston26 on Twitter.
About John Hancock Financial and Manulife Financial Corporation
John Hancock Financial is a unit of Manulife Financial Corporation, a leading Canada-based financial services group with principal operations in Asia, Canada and the United States.
Operating as Manulife Financial in Canada and in most of Asia, and primarily as John Hancock in the United States, Manulife Financial Corporation offers clients a diverse range of financial protection products and wealth management services through its extensive network of employees, agents and distribution partners. Funds under management by Manulife Financial and its subsidiaries were C$515 billion (US$523 billion) as at September 30, 2012. Manulife Financial Corporation trades as 'MFC' on the TSX, NYSE and PSE, and under '945' on the SEHK. Manulife Financial can be found on the Internet at manulife.com.
The John Hancock unit, through its insurance companies, comprises one of the largest life insurers in the United States. John Hancock offers a broad range of financial products and services, including life insurance, annuities, fixed products, mutual funds, 401(k) plans, long-term care insurance, college savings, and other forms of business insurance. Additional information about John Hancock may be found at johnhancock.com, and on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.
SOURCE John Hancock Financial