BOSTON, Dec. 18, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- John Hancock Financial today announced the return of 2012 Boston Marathon champions Sharon Cherop and Wesley Korir of Kenya for the 117th running of the race on April 15.
Wesley Korir ran the smartest race of his life in winning the 116th Boston Marathon. Deftly handling blistering heat that reached a high of 85F, Korir patiently stayed connected to the leaders of the fastest men's field ever assembled. Heading into the Newton hills, he resisted the surges of front-runners Geoffrey Mutai and Levy Matebo, and instead ran within himself and focused on strategy. Singing out loud and staying hydrated, Korir found inspiration to pass first one heat-fatigued runner and then the next. He deliberately moved from sixth place at mile 20, to second at mile 24, to undisputed champion at the finish (2:12:40). Kenyans Levy Matebo and Bernard Kipyego and American Jason Hartmann finished second through fourth respectively.
"Winning the Boston Marathon was the biggest accomplishment of my life and the win placed me in a distinguished group of champions who are legendary," said Korir who is a permanent U.S. resident of Louisville, Kentucky. "The entire world recognizes and respects the Boston Marathon, and I am proudly a Boston Marathon champion forever." Korir said 2013 marks his fifth year of marathon running and his main goal for the year is to defend his Boston title. He is a two-time marathon winner in Los Angeles and was runner up in Chicago in 2011.
Boston's 2012 women's race was equally as strategic as Sharon Cherop's experience on the course proved to be the deciding factor. In her 2011 Boston debut, Cherop ran in sync with countrywoman Caroline Kilel and American Desiree Davila until the final meters, but could not keep pace with the duo and was denied the win by six seconds and the runner-up spot by four seconds. This year, Cherop made amends and after running side by side with countrywoman Jemima Sumgong over the final miles, she put in a crushing surge at the home-stretch corner of Hereford and Boylston. Sumgong was unable to respond and Cherop reached the tape first in 2:31:50, just two seconds ahead of her rival. The close finish marked the fifth consecutive year the women's race has been decided by three seconds or less. Kenyan Georgina Rono finished third and was followed by Ethiopian Firehiwot Dado, the 2011 New York City champion.
"I will be in Boston to try to win again and perform at my best level," said Cherop. "I know that there are some of the best athletes in the world competing in Boston in 2013, but I'll be ready for the big race. The course is very hard because there are a lot of hills and you are running without pacers, but I like this course because it's also making a natural selection among the athletes." Cherop is past marathon champion in Toronto and Hamburg, and was the bronze medalist at the IAAF World Championships Marathon in 2011.
"As John Hancock closes in on 30 years of sponsorship of the Boston Marathon, we are thrilled to have our defending champions returning for the 2013 race," said Rob Friedman, head of Sponsorship and Event Marketing at John Hancock. "Both Wesley and Sharon held off an excellent field in 2012 and will face another one this year as we once again honor our commitment to bring the world's top runners to the race. Marathon Monday will be here before you know it and we fully expect millions of spectators and viewers will experience yet another thrilling race on April 15th."
"It is with great pride that we welcome back Wesley Korir and Sharon Cherop to defend their titles at this year's Boston Marathon," said Tom Grilk, Boston Athletic Association Executive Director. "Their insightful and tactical races in challenging conditions last year will be remembered for years to come as part of Boston's rich tradition of excellence. Thanks to John Hancock Financial Services, both of these great champions have the opportunity to add another Boston Marathon win to their distinguished careers."
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. In 2012, John Hancock celebrates 150 years of serving clients across the United States, while Manulife celebrates its 125th anniversary. 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