Ethiopia’s Endeshaw Negesse leads the entries for the Lake Biwa Mainichi Marathon, an IAAF Gold Label Race Race, in Otsu on 5 March.
The 2015 Tokyo Marathon champion set his best of 2:04:52 at the 2013 Dubai Marathon, making him the fastest in this year’s field, but this will be his first race for 16 months.
Vincent Kipruto, the 2013 Lake Biwa winner, will return to Otsu. The 2011 world silver medallist has a PB of 2:05:13 and won last year’s Xiamen Marathon.
Fellow Kenyan Ezekiel Kiptoo has been improving steadily in recent years. He reduced his PB to 2:06:07 at last year’s Amsterdam Marathon.
World bronze medallist Solomon Mutai excels at championships, but the Ugandan is still awaiting a breakthrough in an international marathon and will be aiming to do better than his 11th-place finish from last year.
Eritrean Olympian Tewelde Estifanos, Ethiopian 20-year-old Yihunilgn Adane and marathon debutant El Hassan Elabbassi of Bahrain are also set to compete.
The race is also the final opportunity for Japanese marathon runners to impress the team selectors ahead of the IAAF World Championships London 2017.
Satoru Sasaki and Suehiro Ishikawa, who both represented Japan at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, lead the domestic entries. Sasaki finished second at the 2014 Lake Biwa Marathon and went on to reduce his PB to 2:08:56 at the following year’s Fukuoka Marathon. 37-year-old Ishikawa will be making his fourth appearance at Lake Biwa, the setting of his 2:09:10 PB from four years ago.
Endeshaw Negesse (ETH) 2:04:52
Vincent Kipruto (KEN) 2:05:13
Ezekiel Kiptoo Chebii (KEN) 2:06:07
Satoru Sasaki (JPN) 2:08:56
Suehiro Ishikawa (JPN) 2:09:10
Tewelde Estifanos (ERI) 2:09:16
Yihunilgn Adane (ETH) 2:09:48
Hayato Sonoda (JPN) 2:10:40
Solomon Mutai (UGA) 2:10:42
Mourad Marofit (MAR) 2:11:20
Tadashi Isshiki (JPN) 2:11:45
Bayron Piedra (ECU) 2:14:12
El Hassan Elabbassi (BRN) debut