The worst winter in Boston’s history is now history. The streets, previously buried under banks of snow, are thankfully now clear, and the heavy boots have been replaced with running sneakers.

But for those running in the 119th edition of the Boston Marathon, the sneakers haven't been far from their thoughts for quite some time. Though the weather made it nearly impossible to train the way many of them would have liked, where there’s a will there’s a way – and that makes this year’s running that much more fulfilling for the locals who weathered the blizzards.

Related: Five ways to celebrate the Boston Marathon (all weekend long)
 
So who should you be looking for on Marathon Monday?
 
Last year’s Boston Marathon was special in many ways, as it was the first race occurring after the deadly bombings that took place near the finish line, and the occasion was one for both solemnity and celebration of the Boston spirit.
 
But one thing the Boston Marathon hadn’t had since 1983 was an American male winner. Well, Meb Keflezighi changed that. Keflezighi, who lives in California, raced to a 2:08:37 time to take first place – and he’s back again this year to defend his title against the world’s best.
 
The reigning women’s winner, however, will not be returning to defend her title. Rita Jeptoo, the three-time women’s Boston Marathon winner, including the last two races, has been banned from the sport for two years after recently testing positive for Erythropoietin, or EPO, a performance-enhancing drug. She also starred in our favorite GIF last year, when she was caught on camera outrunning a Green Line train.

With what is hopefully a clean playing field now, look for Massachusetts native Shalane Flanagan to make her run for the crown, as she’s consistently among the top finishers. The last American woman to win the Boston Marathon was Lisa Rainsberger in 1985, so Flanagan would break a long dry spell.
 
Spectators will line the streets for 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to Heartbreak Hill, and all the way to the finish line on Boylston Street.  Take in the morning Red Sox game and when it ends, cheer the runners on down Commonwealth Ave as they enter the home stretch.
 
The Boston Marathon will include plenty of pain, but much more pleasure as runners look to complete the event, not just for personal glory, but for the charities for which they’ve raised money over the past year.