BOSTON, Dec. 14, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- In its 26th year as the principal sponsor of the Boston Marathon, John Hancock Financial today announced that Kara Goucher and Desiree Davila will headline the elite women's American team at the 115th running of the race on April 18, 2011.
The matchup should prove exciting as both women seek positioning for the 2012 Olympic Marathon. Goucher, who trains under former Boston champion Alberto Salazar, is third on the all-time American list with a 2:25:53 best. Davila, who trains with the Hansons-Brooks team, is fourth with a 2:26:20 best. Only Deena Kastor and Joan Benoit-Samuelson have run faster times.
In head-to-head competition the two women raced on the American team at the 2009 IAAF World Championships Marathon in Berlin with Goucher finishing 10th and Davila five seconds back in 11th.
Choosing Boston as her first marathon after the birth in September of her son, Colt, Goucher said, "My return to running has gone very well and I can't think of a better place than Boston to pickup where I left off."
In 2009 Goucher finished third at the Boston Marathon. Her front running against 2008 champion Dire Tune and eventual winner Salina Kosgei made for a thrilling race as only nine seconds separated the three women at the finish.
"I'm excited to be invited back on the John Hancock elite team," said Goucher. "The 2009 Boston Marathon stands as the highlight of my career. I wished that I could have won, but I did the best I could and Boston embraced me for that. The support in Boston was nothing that I had ever experienced before. It was a thrill of a lifetime to have people cheering my name for the full 26.2-mile race."
In her 2008 marathon debut in New York City, Goucher finished third and set a number of American women's marathon records: the fastest debut ever, the fastest time ever run on the course, and the fastest time of 2008. She also was a 2008 Olympian in the 5,000m and 10,000m, and a 2007 World Championship bronze medalist in the 10,000m.
Desiree Davila brings significant credentials to the John Hancock elite team having run the fastest marathon time by an American in 2010, with her fourth place finish in Chicago.
An Arizona State University All American in cross-country and on the track, Davila made her marathon debut at the Boston Marathon during the 2007 Nor'easter and has consistently developed with each marathon she has run.
"The biggest thing I was able to take away from Chicago and the World Championships is confidence," said Davila. "Everything we are doing at Hansons is about progression. I've learned how to prepare for the marathon; how to race the distance. I've gotten faster and more competitive up front each time out."
Davila plans to train on the Boston course this week in preparation. "The next logical step is putting it all together and learning how to win," said Davila. "As an American marathoner, what better place to take on that challenge than Boston?"
A win by Goucher or Davila will be the first by an American woman since 1985, when Lisa Larsen-Weidenbach won the race. Goucher and Davila join Ryan Hall, announced earlier, on the John Hancock elite team for the 2011 Boston Marathon.
"We are thrilled to have Kara and Desiree back for the 2011 Boston Marathon, joining what will once again be an outstanding field of runners from around the world. John Hancock remains committed to securing an elite global field for the Boston Marathon and we are well on our way for 2011," said Jim Boyle, President of John Hancock Financial Services. "Kara, Desiree and other elite runners every year provide the millions of spectators and viewers with a thrilling race. Marathoning is a global sport, but the growing prominence of U.S. runners among the world's elite is a terrific development for fans and for the sport."
"Kara proved herself in 2009 when she led for most of the race, giving American hopes a real chance for the entire 26.2 miles. Those who watched her performance will not soon forget it. And since Desiree first ran Boston in 2007, she has emerged as one of America's shining stars. We look forward to the return of both in April," said B.A.A. Executive Director Guy Morse.
About John Hancock Financial and Manulife Financial Corporation
John Hancock Financial is a unit of Manulife Financial Corporation, a leading Canadian-based financial services group serving millions of customers in 22 countries and territories worldwide. 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. For more than 120 years, clients have looked to Manulife for strong, reliable, trustworthy and forward-thinking solutions for their most significant financial decisions. Funds under management by Manulife Financial and its subsidiaries were Cdn$474 billion (US$460 billion) as at September 30, 2010.
Manulife Financial Corporation trades as 'MFC' on the TSX, NYSE and PSE, and under '945' on the SEHK. Manulife Financial may be found on the Internet at www.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, fixed and variable 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 www.johnhancock.com.
SOURCE John Hancock Financial