Fast times abound in Boston

Chicago Marathon course-record holder Dennis Kimetto and three other men with sub-2:05 personal records will challenge defending champion Lelisa Desisa at the Boston Marathon in April, and women's defending champion Rita Jeptoo will face four other women with sub-2:22 PRs, John Hancock, which organizes the race's elite field, has announced.

Kimetto ran 2:03:45 at Chicago in October to break that race's course record by 53 seconds. His time is the fastest ever run in the United States on a record-eligible course. Kimetto, who trains with world record holder Wilson Kipsang and Boston course record holder Geoffrey Mutai, has had a short but scintillating marathon career. The Kenyan finished second in 2:04:16, one second behind Mutai, in his debut at Berlin in 2012. Last February, he won Tokyo, and then ruled Chicago. Boston will be his first marathon on a course with significant hills.

Much attention has been given to the strong men's field for the London Marathon, which will be run eight days before Boston. Among the contenders there will be Kipsang, Mutai, reigning Olympic and world champion Stephen Kiprotich, and, in his marathon debut, double Olympic gold medalist Mo Farah. However, the Boston's men's field includes the two top-ranked marathoners of 2013 in Desisa and Kimetto.

In December, the marathon announced that Desisa and Jeptoo would defend their titles. Earlier this month, a strong American field was announced, including Olympians Shalane Flanagan, Meb Keflezighi, Dathan Ritzenhein and Desi Davila Linden.

If they're fit and healthy, Desisa and Kimetto will likely define the men's race on April 21. Among their announced challengers will be Moses Mosop, who was second at Boston in his marathon debut in 2011; Micah Kogo, second at Boston last year in his debut; Amsterdam course record holder Wilson Chebet; and aggressive young Ethiopian Tilahun Regassa, the 2013 Rotterdam winner.

The women's race is potentially more open-ended. Jeptoo's challengers will include Meseret Hailu and Sharon Cherop, who were second and third, respectively, at Boston last year. Since then, Cherop, who won Boston in 2012, lowered her PR to 2:22:28 while finishing second at Berlin in September.

Another Kenyan on the upswing who'll be in Boston is Jemima Sumgong, who took almost eight minutes off her personal best when she ran 2:20:48 to finish second to Jeptoo at Chicago in October.

The fastest woman in the field is Ethiopian Mare Dibaba. She set her PR of 2:19:52 in Dubai in 2012, and started 2014 off with a win at the Xiamen Marathon in China on Jan. 2.

The top foreign and American elites for the marathon are listed below, in order of personal best time.

Moses Mosop, Kenya: 2:03:06 (Boston, 2011)
Dennis Kimetto, Kenya: 2:03:45 (Chicago, 2013)
Lelisa Desisa, Ethiopia: 2:04:45 (Dubai, 2013)
Gebre Gebremariam, Ethiopia: 2:04:53 (Boston, 2011)
Markos Geneti, Ethiopia: 2:04:54 (Dubai, 2012)
Tilahun Regassa, Ethiopia: 2:05:27 (Chicago, 2012)
Shami Dawud, Ethiopia: 2:05:42 (Dubai, 2012)
Micah Kogo, Kenya: 2:06:56 (Chicago, 2013)
Dathan Ritzenhein, USA: 2:07:47 (Chicago, 2012)
Meb Keflezighi, USA: 2:09:08 (Houston, 2012)
Jason Hartmann, USA 2:11:06 (Chicago, 2010)

Mare Dibaba, Ethiopia: 2:19:52 (Dubai, 2012)
Rita Jeptoo, Kenya: 2:19:57 (Chicago, 2013)
Jemima Sumgong, Kenya: 2:20:48 (Chicago, 2013)
Meseret Hailu, Ethiopia: 2:21:09 (Amsterdam, 2012)
Eunice Kirwa, Kenya: 2:21:41 (Amsterdam, 2012)
Sharon Cherop, Kenya: 2:22:38 (Berlin, 2013)
Caroline Kilel, Kenya: 2:22:34 (Frankfurt, 2013)
Desi Davila Linden, USA: 2:22:38 (Boston, 2011)
Buzunesh Deba, Ethiopia: 2:23:19 (New York, 2011)
Shalane Flanagan, USA: 2:25:38 (Houston, 2012)
Amy Hastings, USA: 2:27:03 (Los Angeles, 2011)
Serena Burla, USA: 2:28:01 (Amsterdam, 2013)