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John Hancock Financial Announces Return of Defending Champions to Run 2008 Boston Marathon

BOSTON, MA, January 23, 2008—John Hancock Financial, in its 23rd year as principal sponsor of the Boston Marathon, today announced the return of three-time champion Robert Kipkoech Cheruiyot of Kenya and women’s winner Lidiya Grigoryeva of Russia for the 112th running of the race on April 21.

Cheruiyot, the winner in 2003, 2006 and 2007, will seek to become the first Kenyan to claim four Boston Marathon crowns. Winning this year also would put him in the company of only three men who have won four or more times, Canadian Gerard Cote and Americans Bill Rodgers and Clarence DeMar.

“I’d like to thank John Hancock for inviting me back to defend my title,” said Cheruiyot. “I have had much success on the Boston course because the more difficult and competitive a race is, the more I commit myself to do my best.”

Cheruiyot, who set a course record of 2:07:14 in Boston in 2006, then went on to win the Chicago Marathon in an unprecedented same-year double. He returned to a stormy Boston in 2007 to claim his third victory and secure the inaugural World Marathon Majors Series title and $500,000 prize. The series, now entering its second two-year cycle, brings together the best athletes in the world to compete in Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York.

Boston’s 2007 women’s champion, Lidiya Grigoryeva, found the tape first last year holding off the top three ranked women in the world: Deena Kastor, Jelena Prokopcuka and 2006 Boston Champion Rita Jeptoo.

“Winning Boston was a career highlight for me,” said Grigoryeva. “I am eager to compete again with the best runners in the world and thank John Hancock for the opportunity.”

Grigoryeva is a two-time Olympian at 10,000 meters and, in addition to her Boston success, she earned a course record win at the 2006 Los Angeles Marathon and was champion at the 2005 Paris Marathon.

“We are very excited to have both of our defending champions returning for the 112th Boston Marathon," said Guy Morse, Executive Director of the Boston Athletic Association. “Robert and Lidiya showed their strength by winning in difficult conditions in 2007. We look forward to seeing how they follow up on those victories in 2008.”

“John Hancock Financial is closing in on a quarter century of bringing the world’s top runners like Robert and Lidiya back to the race year after year, ensuring that the Boston Marathon remains one of the world’s premier road races,” said John D. DesPrez III, President and Chief Executive Officer of John Hancock Financial. “We are very pleased to celebrate our 23rd year of fulfilling our promise to the city of Boston and surrounding communities to support this great race. Not only is it an annual sign that spring has arrived here, but the Boston Marathon also provides a tremendous positive annual economic effect on the region, generating a direct and indirect economic impact of an estimated $95 million. John Hancock is proud of its long history of supporting the Boston Marathon.”