Kenenisa Bekele leads a star-studded men's race line-up for the Boston Marathon ©Getty Images

Ethiopian distance running legend Kenenisa Bekele has been announced as the star name in the men's field for the 2022 Boston Marathon, with the three-time Olympic champion being one of 12 runners having personal bests under the 2 hours 6 minutes mark.

The 39-year-old has the second-quickest time ever in the men's marathon with a best of 2:01:41, two seconds slower than Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge's world record from the 2018 Berlin Marathon.

Scheduled for April 18, this year's edition is set to be the first Boston Marathon since 2019 in its usual springtime slot, after the 2020 edition was cancelled and the 2021 race was moved to October due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Seven of the eight past winners of the race are due to return too, including 2021 champion Benson Kipruto from Kenya.

Kipruto's compatriots Lawrence Cherono, the 2019 winner, and Geoffrey Kirui, first in 2017, are on the start list as well.

Two-time winner and 2019 world champion Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia returns and will be seeking a third win after his 2013 and 2015 victories.

Desisa's fellow countryman Lemi Berhanu, the 2016 winner, was announced too alongside 2018 champion Yuki Kawauchi from Japan.

World champion from 2019 Lelisa Desisa is part of the line-up for the Boston Marathon ©Getty Images
World champion from 2019 Lelisa Desisa is part of the line-up for the Boston Marathon ©Getty Images

"I recognise the tradition of the Boston Marathon and look forward to racing in April," said Bekele.

"For many years Ethiopia has had a strong tradition in Boston, and I am excited to join that legacy. 

"I have long looked forward to racing the Boston Marathon."

Other top names mentioned include Kenyans Titus Ekiru and Evans Chebet who have ran the second and third-fastest times in 2:02:57 and 2:03:00.

Three-time world half marathon champion Geoffrey Kamworor and New York City Marathon winner Albert Korir, both from Kenya are also set to feature, as is Tanzania's Gabriel Geay.