Kenya has long held a stranglehold over this title, winning the past three editions, but their great rivals Ethiopia have enough strength and quality in their team to potentially end that streak.
Luke Kibet in 2007, followed by Abel Kirui in 2009 and 2011, took the past three World Marathon titles, however, with Kirui out injured, and several other stellar names missing, the Kenyan team has an inexperienced look about it.
Nonetheless, any Kenyan Marathon team should never be underestimated and leading their quintet of athletes is Bernard Koech, who ran a lifetime best of 2:04:53 to finish fifth in Dubai in January. The brother of 1500m runner Bethwell Birgen, Koech followed that up with an impressive Lisbon Half-marathon victory in 59:54 and could pose a threat.
Peter Some, another man from a running family and the son of 1983 IAAF World Cross Country Championships bronze medallist Some Muge, claimed an impressive win in the Paris Marathon with 2:05:38 in the spring and he is another with the potential to win a medal.
The Tokyo Marathon second and third place finishers, Michael Kipyego and Bernard Kipyego, will also compete. Rounding out the five-strong Kenyan team is Nicholas Kipkemboi, who finished sixth in January’s Dubai Marathon in 2:06:33.
Ethiopia has surprisingly only taken this title on one occasion, when Gezahegne Abera took gold in Edmonton 2001. However, they have sufficient quality in their ranks to add a second men’s World Marathon title in Moscow.
Tsegay Kebede is their most experienced man and he defeated one of the greatest Marathon fields in history in April to take his second London Marathon title.
Kebede, still only 26, is also a proven championship performer having snared bronze medals in the Marathon at the 2008 Olympic Games and 2009 World Championships and he will determined to take his first major championship title.
Arguably, the No.1 Marathon performer in 2013 has been his compatriot Lelisa Desisa, who set a world-leading mark to win the Dubai Marathon in 2:04:45 in January.
Desisa then followed this up three months later to take victory in Boston and he will be looking to complete a memorable hat-trick of wins this calendar year with victory in the Russian capital.
Further bolstering a powerful Ethiopian team is 2013 Rotterdam Marathon winner Tilahun Regassa, who won in 2:05:39, and Tadesa Tola, who finished third in Dubai in a personal best of 2:04:49.
Feyisa Lilesa, the 2011 World Championships bronze medallist who placed fourth in April’s London Marathon, completes their line up.
If anyone is going to stop the Kenyan and Ethiopian assault for gold then 2012 Olympic champion Stephen Kiprotich looks best equipped for the challenge.
The 24-year-old Ugandan, who placed ninth at the 2011 World Championships, caused a big surprise to win on the streets of London last summer but on his return to the British capital for the London Marathon in April he was some way off the pace, finishing sixth in 2:08:05.
A strong Eritrean team is led by Yared Asmeron, the man who finished fourth at the 2007 World Championships. The 34-year-old enjoyed a solid London Marathon in the spring, finishing seventh and should be competitive.
Joauad Gharib, the 2003 and 2005 World champion, leads a two-strong Moroccan team backed up by London Marathon ninth-place finisher Hafid Chani.
Outside of Africa, the Japanese team may also present a challenge with Kentaro Nakamoto, the sixth-place finisher at the 2012 Olympics, and Hiroyuki Horibata, who finished seventh at the 2011 World Championships.
Brazil’s 2012 Olympics eighth-place finisher Paulo Roberto Paula might also be someone to look out for.
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Steve Landells for the IAAF