John Hancock Announces Return of Men's Champion Meb Keflezighi and Elite USA Teammates For 2015 Boston Marathon

BOSTON, MA, January 7, 2015 - John Hancock Financial today announced the Elite USA Team for the 119th running of the Boston Marathon on April 20, 2015. The exceptional team, recruited to compete with a deep international field, includes the men’s defending champion Meb Keflezighi, as well as Shalane Flanagan, Desiree Davila Linden, Amy Hastings, Dathan Ritzenhein, Nick Arciniaga, Jeffrey Eggleston, and Fernando Cabada. Each member has competed in Olympic or World Championships and brings strong credentials to compete in the 119th running of the Boston Marathon.

"We've witnessed performances by many of the world's best marathoners at Boston, and seeing more Americans contend in recent years—and ultimately win—always adds to the anticipation and the excitement for our runners, our spectators and all of our audiences,” said Tom Grilk, B.A.A. Executive Director. "The Boston Marathon is an international event, but as we saw in April 2014, American contenders can't help but be buoyed by the strong sense of patriotism which surrounds our race. We appreciate that our 30-year sponsor John Hancock has supported Americans who want to run the Boston Marathon and compete on our international stage against many of the world's best athletes."

"We are thrilled to have Meb back as our defending champion and equally thrilled to have him surrounded by another exceptionally strong American field, led on the women's side by Shalane Flanagan," said Rob Friedman, head of Sponsorship and Event Marketing at John Hancock. "In John Hancock's 30 years of sponsorship of the Boston Marathon, we've always had the strongest international fields of runners who have thrilled spectators along the route and viewers from around the globe. To have an increasingly strong American contingent year after year only adds to the excitement of this remarkable race, not just for the hometown fans, but the entire international running community."

A three-time Olympian, Meb Keflezighi is one of America’s most decorated marathoners. In 2014 he broke from the lead pack early and beat the fastest elite men's field ever assembled for the Boston Marathon to become the first U.S. male winner since 1983. Before the start of the race, Keflezighi wrote the names of the victims of the 2013 race day tragedy on his number and said he was determined and inspired to win to honor all of those affected.

"I am so excited to run the 2015 Boston Marathon," said Keflezighi. "My win at the 2014 Boston Marathon will always be the most significant victory of my career. But I still aspire to get the best out of myself, run personal bests, win races and inspire all people to get the best out of themselves in running and in life. There is no better platform for these goals than the Boston Marathon."

Keflezighi is the only American man to have won the Boston and New York City Marathons (2009) and earned an Olympic Marathon medal (silver, 2004). He has run Boston two additional times, placing third in 2006 and fifth in 2010. Other career highlights include winning the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathon, placing fourth at the 2012 London Olympic Games Marathon and finishing fourth at the 2014 New York City Marathon.

Three-time Olympian Shalane Flanagan, who last year ran the fastest time ever by an American woman on the course (2:22:02), is also on the John Hancock Elite Team. Leading for most of the way last year, she was instrumental in pushing ten women to finish under 2:24:00 for the first time in the history of the sport.

Growing up in the Boston area, Flanagan was especially concerned with honoring those affected by the 2013 race day tragedy and her front running proved her intent to win. "Boston brings out the best in you, because it demands the best of you," said Flanagan. "I grew up on the sidelines of this race and from the intimidating course to the fierce competition, this marathon represents at its very core what it means to run with everything you have. Last year that’s what I did and this year will be no different, because this is Boston and that's just what you do."

After Boston, Flanagan placed third at the Berlin Marathon in 2:21:14 and set a U.S. 25K record along the way. In 2013 she finished fourth in Boston and in 2012 Flanagan won the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in an event record of 2:25:38 and went on to finish tenth at the 2012 London Olympic Marathon. Flanagan holds North and Central American records in the indoor 3,000m and 5,000m and in the outdoor 10,000m, 15K and 25K. She won the bronze medal in the 10,000m at the 2008 Olympics, placed second in her 2010 marathon debut in New York City, and won the bronze medal at the 2011 IAAF World Cross Country Championships.

Desiree Davila Linden, the fourth fastest American marathoner of all time, returns to Boston seeking another chance at the title. In 2011, she narrowly missed winning the race by two seconds, running a then American course record 2:22:38. Last year at Boston she ran 2:23:54 and followed in New York City with a hard-earned fifth place against a highly competitive field. Proving her talent, determination and consistency, Linden has finished top five in five World Marathon Majors. Additional accomplishments include finishing tenth at the 2009 World Marathon Championships and second at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.

Speaking about the depth of competitiveness at last year's race, Linden said, "The 2014 Boston Marathon really changed the game for women's marathoning. Running respectable there and finishing a distant 10th really kept me hungry all year and raised my own level of expectations. After a consistent 2014, I've built great momentum and feel like a breakthrough is possible this spring; I'm honored to once again be a part of the John Hancock elite field and can't wait to compete on the streets of Boston."

Olympian Amy Hastings joins Linden and Flanagan for her Boston debut. At the Chicago Marathon last year, Hastings finished top American and fifth overall as she matched her 2:27:03 best from her runner-up 2011 Los Angeles debut. After winning the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials 10,000m, Hastings finished 11th in the event at the London Olympic Games. She then competed in the event at the 2013 IAAF World Championships 10,000m and finished 14th. Additional marathon highlights for Hastings include fourth at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials.

Hastings now calls Providence, Rhode Island, home and is taking advantage of the proximity to the Boston course. "Boston has been on my race bucket list since I started running and it's finally happening," said Hastings. "The start line is only a 45-minute drive from my home, so I have been logging miles on the course to prepare myself for those Newton hills. I can't wait to get out there and put all of my hard work to use."

In the men's field, three-time Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein joins Keflezighi on the John Hancock Elite Athlete Team to make his Boston debut. Ritzenhein, who is coached by 1982 Boston Marathon champion Alberto Salazar, is the third fastest U.S. marathoner of all time. Career highlights for Ritzenhein include finishing ninth at the 2008 Olympic Marathon, winning the bronze medal at the 2009 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships and finishing 13th at the 2012 Olympic Games 10,000m. His 2:07:47 best was recorded with a ninth place, top American finish at the 2012 Chicago Marathon.

"The Boston Marathon is the most iconic marathon in the world and I can't wait to toe the line this year," said Ritzenhein. "I have wanted to run Boston for a very long time and I will give it everything I have on race day. Every runner knows the importance this race holds and I look forward to April 20th to take to the streets of Boston."

Nick Arciniaga also returns to Boston after finishing seventh last year. Arciniaga won the 2013 U.S. Marathon Championships and is a past member of the U.S. World Championships Marathon team. Additional career highlights include finishing tenth at the 2014 New York City Marathon, eighth at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, second at the 2011 Houston Marathon, third at the 2010 San Diego Marathon and tenth at the 2008 Boston Marathon.

"It is an honor to again be a part of the John Hancock Elite Athlete team at the 2015 Boston Marathon," said Arciniaga. "I hope we can continue to keep numerous U.S. athletes at the front of the field."

Jeffrey Eggleston returns after finishing eighth overall last year at Boston to round out a strong showing for the U.S. men in the top ten. After Boston, he finished runner up at the Gold Coast Marathon in a 2:10:52 personal best. He also won the Virginia Beach, Los Angeles and Las Vegas Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathons. In 2013, Eggleston was the top American finisher at the IAAF World Championships Marathon in Moscow, where he placed 13th. He also was runner up at the 2010 U.S. Marathon Championships, second at the 2012 Pittsburgh Marathon and winner of the 2012 Woodlands Marathon.

"I'm delighted to return to Boston," said Eggleston. "Last year's race was an historic occasion that left me inspired, motivated and hungry for more. No race holds more importance to my future goals. There's only one Boston!"

Joining the men's team is Fernando Cabada who had a banner year in 2014 as he improved his marathon best to 2:11:36 at the 2014 Berlin Marathon with an 11th place finish. Cabada is a former North and Central American record holder in the 25K (1:14:21) and a three-time national champion in the marathon (2008) and 25K (2006, 2011). Cabada made his marathon debut in Fukuoka in 2006 with a 2:12:27 finish.

"I am extremely grateful to have another opportunity to compete in Boston, on a world stage," said Cabada. "Redemption is what comes to mind as two years ago in my debut Boston showing I finished 16th after having some lower leg issues midway through the race. I feel I am at the top of my game after running a personal best a few months ago in Berlin and I am more than confident I will do even better at this year’s Boston Marathon. I'm looking forward to being part of a great American contingent in the race. I can't wait for Boston!"

The complete John Hancock international field for the 2015 Boston Marathon will be announced in mid-January. This year marks the 30th 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.

2015 Boston Marathon John Hancock Elite USA Team

Shalane Flanagan USA 2:21:14 (Berlin, 2014)
Desiree Davila Linden USA 2:22:38 (Boston, 2011)
Amy Hastings USA 2:27:03 (Chicago, 2014/L.A. 2011)
Dathan Ritzenhein USA 2:07:47 (Chicago, 2012)
Meb Keflezighi USA 2:08:37 (Boston, 2014)
Jeffrey Eggleston USA 2:10:52 (Gold Coast, 2014)
Nicholas Arciniaga USA 2:11:30 (Houston, 2011)
Fernando Cabada USA 2:11:36 (Berlin, 2014)

About John Hancock Financial and Manulife
John Hancock Financial is a division of Manulife, a leading Canada-based financial services group with principal operations in Asia, Canada and the United States. Operating as Manulife in Canada and Asia, and primarily as John Hancock in the United States, our group of companies 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 and its subsidiaries were C$663 billion (US$591 billion) as at September 30 2014. Manulife Financial Corporation trades as 'MFC' on the TSX, NYSE and PSE, and under '945' on the SEHK. Manulife 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 and administers a broad range of financial products, including life insurance, annuities, investments, 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.

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