The 2011 Marathon Eindhoven men's race is expected to yield very fast times, with the course record of 2:07.01 looking in severe danger on Sunday (9).
Eight runners will be on the start line with personal bests below the 2 hours 10 minutes barrier, five of whom have run faster than 2:08. Into the bargain, there are several runners set to make their debut over the classic distance but who have clocked great times at the Half Marathon.
Leading the way is Ethiopia's Tadesse Tola, still only 23, who showed off his prodigious talent when he won the 2010 Paris Marathon in 2:06:41. He then improved to 2:06:31 almost exactly 12 months ago when he finished second in Frankfurt.
Tola will be looking to jointly put an end to the 12-year winning streak by Kenyan runners and also improve on the course record, which was set by Geoffrey Mutai in 2009.
Heading the challenge to retain Kenyan supremacy in Eindhoven is David Kipkorir Mandago.
He is 10 years older than Tola but still has youthful legs and clocked his best of 2:06:53 in Paris two years ago. He also knows how to come home in front after having crossed the line first in the Hamburg and Rome Marathons in recent years.
Kipkorir Mandago has adjusted his Marathon preparations in recent months after over-training, he believes, for his two most recent marathons in 2010 and 2011.
Alongside Kipkorir Mandago is his compatriot Nicholas Chelimo Kipkorir, who was second in Eindhoven last year in a personal best of 2:07:38.
After just being edged out by last year's winner Charles Kamathi, who is unable to defend his title, with both men being given the same time and only split by a photo-finish, Chelimo Kipkorir is determined not to have to settle for second best again.
He went on to win the Honolulu Marathon in sweltering heat and humidity last December.
Kenya's Charles Kiama Munyeki had a great year on the roads in 2009 culminating in a splendid marathon debut of 2:07.06 when finishing fourth in Chicago.
Illness and injury curtailed his progress over the last 18 months but he now feels he is back to his best and ready to make an impression in Eindhoven.
Ethiopia's Teshome Gelana Etana had two good marathons last year, including winning in Houston in 2:07:37, but after failing to finish at the Daegu Marathon back in April, he will be determined to bounce back and show what he is capable of on European soil.
Mention should also be made of Kenya's Kiplimo Kimutai, who will be making his marathon debut in Eindhoven.
Kimutai went under the magical mark of one hour for the half marathon when he finished second at the 2009 Great North Run in the north east of England in 59:44, the same year that he finished seventh at the World half Marathon Championships.
He is also an accomplished track runner and can boast of a 10,000m best of 27:16.49.
Despite his lack of experience over the full marathon distance, many pundits think that Kiplimo Kimutai could be a dark horse in Sunday's race.
A group of pacemakers have been asked to take the leading pack through to the halfway point in 63:15 to 63:30, which will give someone an excellent chance of breaking the course record.
Only seven other marathons have been won in 2011 in times under 2:07 and Marathon Eindhoven is aiming to add its name to that list.
However, whatever happens and whoever wins, a new name is guaranteed to be added to the Marathon Eindhoven roll of honour which stretches back to 1959, when Germany's Fritz Schöning crossed the line in 2:45:05; a time which the 2011 women's winner is expected to beat by around 20 minutes.
Phil Minshull (organisers for the IAAF)
- Tadesse Tola improves all the way to 2:06:23 to take the 2010 Paris Marathon (Getty Images) © Copyright