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John Hancock Brings Boston Marathon Defending Women's Champion, Past Champions and Other Kenyan Elite Runners to Hopkinton Marathon Rally

Athletes Discuss Kenyan Culture and Training with Elmwood Elementary Students

HOPKINTON, Mass., April 17, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- John Hancock today brought the Boston Marathon defending women's champion Rita Jeptoo, two past champions, and other elite Kenyan athletes, to a pre-marathon rally with nearly 600 students from Hopkinton's Elmwood Elementary School.

The rally, part of John Hancock's 'Scholars and Stars' program, gives students an opportunity to meet Kenyan athletes and learn first-hand about Kenya's culture and the lifestyles of the country's talented marathon runners. A Kenyan has won either the men's or women's open race (and sometimes both) in the last 22 years of the Boston Marathon.

The Kenyan runners at the event were led by Boston Marathon defending women's champion Rita Jeptoo, who also won Boston in 2006. "I have been to this rally before and am always so happy to see the young children interested in running and learning about another country and its people," Jeptoo said.

Joining Jeptoo were 2012 Women's Champion Sharon Cherop, 2011 Women's Champion Caroline Kilel, and more than ten other elite runners from Kenya. All the Kenyan elites will participate in the 118th Boston Marathon on Monday, April 21, 2014.

"For more than twenty years, we've made the Kenyan marathon runners' visit a cornerstone of John Hancock's overall commitment to inspire an interest in other cultures as well as a love of running and fitness," said Rob Friedman, assistant vice president of Sponsorship and Event Marketing, John Hancock. "This event also is beloved by the runners and serves as an opportunity for us to thank them. There really is nothing like the excitement and energy in the gym as the children cheer on these world-class runners."

The annual event began in 1992 when 150 Elmwood students welcomed three-time Boston Marathon champion Ibrahim Hussein and his Kenyan teammates. Since the program's inception, Hopkinton school officials have documented a marked increase in participation in their interscholastic track and cross-country teams, which now are among the most competitive in the state. More than 12,200 students, teachers, administrators and other Hopkinton community members have participated in the event since it began.  

"This event is always met with great anticipation and is a highlight of the school year at Elmwood School," said Hopkinton Superintendent Dr. Cathy MacLeod. "The opportunity to meet the elite Kenyan athletes provides a unique and inspiring experience for all students to a make a direct connection from the start in their home town to the finish line in Boston."

About John Hancock Financial and Manulife Financial Corporation
John Hancock Financial is a division of Manulife Financial, a leading Canada-based financial services group with principal operations in Asia, Canada and the United States. Operating as Manulife Financial in Canada and Asia, and primarily as John Hancock in the United States, the Company 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 Financial and its subsidiaries were C$599 billion (US$563 billion) as at December 31, 2013. Manulife Financial Corporation trades as 'MFC' on the TSX, NYSE and PSE, and under '945' on the SEHK. Manulife Financial 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.

SOURCE John Hancock Financial

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