After five consecutive course records at the Brighton Marathon, the men are looking to make it a sixth at the IAAF Bronze Label Road Race on Sunday (12).
The man most familiar with the course is Kenyan Dominic Kangor. The 25-year-old is determined to regain the title he lifted two years ago. He was in the mix last year but after a titanic tussle in the final miles that saw him slash more than a minute from his personal best, he had to settle for second spot in 2:09:36.
The fastest man in the field is Kenyan Mutai Kipkemei who at the age of 28 is a recent convert to the distance. But he showed considerable experience last autumn when he finished third in Hengshui with a career best of 2:09:29, an improvement of 37 seconds over his previous best from 2013.
Kipkemei’s career has taken place exclusively on the roads, the highlight coming over the half marathon when he enjoyed a notable win in Rio five years ago.
Inevitably, where there are Kenyans there must also be an Ethiopian. Musa Babo Ido, 27, will be trying to stem the sequence of four Kenyan wins. No Ethiopian has ever won in Brighton.
Duncan Kipkurui Maiyo, 24, will be racing for the first time outside Africa when he takes to the Brighton streets. The fact that he trains with the elite trio of 2:06 performers Micah Kogo, Mark Kiptoo and Mike Kigen suggests that he may have an effect on proceedings.
On the women’s side, like Kangor, Eunice Kales is a former champion returning to a happy hunting ground. Still the course record-holder after her storming finish two years ago when she breasted the tape in 2:28:50, she spent most of last year sidelined with injury.
But now she is back to attack a course she knows well and that fact could be decisive. In the same year she won Brighton, the Kenyan took her best down several notches to 2:27:19 when she was second in Melbourne.
Lishan Dula of Bahrain has the best credentials. After competing at the Olympics and World Championships, she won her first major medal last year when she picked up bronze at the Asian Games. Her lifetime best of 2:26:56, the second national record of her career, came when she crossed the line in third place in Rotterdam four years ago.
An intriguing debutante is 30-year-old Pennina Wanjiru of Kenya who is no stranger to fast running since she trains with sub-2:20 performer Lucy Kabuu. She came third at high altitude in Nairobi over the half distance last year.
For 2015 there has been a record number of registrations – 15,705 – and the winner can expect to pocket $6,000 plus the same amount for a course record. Sub-2:09 for the men and sub-2:28 for the women would be worth an extra $2,000. European 10,000m champion Jo Pavey sends them on their way.
With a forecast low of 6C and a high of 12C, conditions could well be ideal for the 9:15am elite start on the London Road while the mass start gets away from Preston Park.
Last year organisers added the BM10km to their portfolio. It was won by Nick McCormick (29:11) and former Brighton Marathon champion Alyson Dixon (32:35). After her recent lifetime best of 32:30 following her return from winter training in Kenya, Dixon will face a stern test from Helen Clitheroe and 2008 world junior 1500m champion Stephanie Twell.
On the men’s side, Andrew Lemoncello has his first outing since the Commonwealth Games against a clutch of good British runners including Mark Draper and Jonathan Taylor.
The first action of the Brighton Marathon weekend takes place on Saturday when a record 2500 youngsters between the ages of seven and 17 take part in the Mini Mile around Steve Ovett’s old stomping ground, Preston Park.
Michael Butcher (organisers) for the IAAF