In its 22nd year as the major sponsor of the Boston Marathon, John Hancock Financial Services announced the return of two-time champion Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot of Kenya and last year’s runner-up Jelena Prokopcuka of Latvia for the 111th running of the race on April 16.
Cheruiyot and Prokopcuka have chosen to compete in Boston to reinforce their commanding lead in the prestigious World Marathon Majors series and move closer to sharing the million-dollar prize awarded at the end of the year. The series brings together the best athletes in the world to compete in Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York. John Hancock also sponsors a significant purse for the top runners at Boston each year.
Both athletes return to Hancock’s elite team with outstanding accomplishments. Cheruiyot is the reigning Boston and Chicago Marathon champion, earning the distinction as the only man to have ever won both marathons in the same year. In Boston last year, Cheruiyot claimed the course record in 2:07:14. He also won Boston in 2003 and the Milan City Marathon in 2002. “Boston is always an exciting race to compete in and I'd like to thank John Hancock for welcoming me back to run again against a highly competitive field," said Cheruiyot.
Last year’s women’s runner-up in Boston and two-time New York City champion, Jelena Prokopcuka, will be racing for the crown after placing second last year and fourth in 2004. Prokopcuka has competed for Latvia in the past three Olympics and is a multiple national record-holder on the track and roads. At the Osaka Marathon in 2005, she secured the win with a national record of 2:22:56. At New York the past two years, she was the undisputed leader despite being challenged by the world’s best runners.
“Robert and Jelena are two of the premier marathoners in the world, as evidenced by their current standing atop the World Marathon Majors leaderboard,” said Guy Morse, Executive Director of the Boston Athletic Association, which organizes the marathon. “The constitution of the elite athlete field makes Boston one of the most eagerly anticipated sporting events of the spring. Like the rest of the community, we appreciate John Hancock’s ongoing support.”
“For more than 20 years, John Hancock has fulfilled its promise to the city of Boston and surrounding communities to support the Boston Marathon. By bringing top runners like Robert and Jelena back to the race year after year, John Hancock helps ensure the Boston Marathon remains one of the world’s premier road races now and in the future,” said John D. DesPrez III, President and Chief Executive Officer of John Hancock Financial Services. “In addition, beyond being an annual sign of spring in the Boston area, the Boston Marathon also has a tremendous positive effect on the region, generating a direct and indirect economic impact of an estimated $95 million annually, and John Hancock is proud to play its part in this event.”