The man to beat in Lausanne, Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele, is being typically cagey about his plans and prospects at these World Championships. The favourite for Saturday's women's long race, Deena Drossin of the USA, is rather more candid.
"I'm going to be aggressive right from the start," Drossin explained. That's the way I race best. I'm accepting the fact that it's going to hurt real bad."
We are certain to see a new champion because, for the first time since 1987, there will be no former winners in the race. The 30 year-old Californian finished reasonably close behind Paula Radcliffe 12 months ago in Dublin, and all the signs are that Drossin is in even better form in the absence of the British star.
On February 8, she won the US road 15K title at Jacksonville in 47:12. Her winning time in the same race on February 9 last year was 48:12, nearly one minute slower. Like Radcliffe, she is clearly benefiting from the extra miles resulting from her marathon preparations.
Last year she was doing runs of 12-15 miles, this year single runs are as long as 26 miles, with weekly totals up to 130. She is known for her punishing training regime, but she has eased off for Lausanne.
"This week it's been very light," she explained. "You can't not taper down for a World championship."
Silver behind Radcliffe in Dublin was a terrific result, but Drossin now regards the experience as "bittersweet."
"It had always been my goal to be in the top five," she explained, and all of a sudden I'm alongside a women [Radcliffe] who has been my idol. On the final lap I thought 'wait a second, why am I not trying to win this.' I guess I feel more worthy now."
This time Radcliffe is saving herself for the London Marathon in two week's time. Drossin will also run in London, but she's not concerned about the proximity of these championships and reminds us that she set a World road best for 5K last year, just one week after Dublin. One gets the feeling that she would not have missed this race for the world.
"Cross country is a huge love of mine," she revealed. "It gets you fabulously fit."
Drossin is in Lausanne with her fiancé, Andrew Kastor. She is confident and relaxed, despite encountering a heckler while training in the town during the week, who shouted 'Yanks go home' at the couple. On Sunday's race, she will wear a yellow ribbon "to promote peace."
A happier episode for the pair was shopping for CDs on Thursday. Not the sort of music you might expect from a 30 something, Drossin psyches herself up for races by listening to modern dance tracks and bought two compilations of that genre.
"We just can't get Techno like that at home," explained Kastor.
Mark Butler for the IAAF