Mare Dibaba in the marathon at the Olympic Games (© Getty Images)
Organisers are targeting the first-sub-2:20 run in the women's race at the Mainova Frankfurt Marathon, and IAAF Gold Label race, on 28 October.
Heading the start list is 2015 world champion and 2016 Olympic bronze medallist Mare Dibaba of Ethiopia who has twice clocked 2:19:52, most recently in 2015 when she triumphed at the Xiamen Marathon. She was fifth in Frankfurt in 2010 clocking 2:25:27.
She'll be joined by three compatriots who have dipped under 2:22 in 2018.
Haftamnesh Tesfay, 24, made an impressive marathon debut in Dubai in January, finishing fifth in 2:20:13, the fourth fastest time ever by a debutante over the distance. That performance should whet the appetite for what she can do in Frankfurt.
Two places behind Tesfay in Dubai came another Ethiopian debutant, 21-year-old Dera Dida, who clocked 2:21:45. Tesfay and Dida were soon in action again and distinguished themselves at the Rome Ostia Half Marathon two months later. They dominated the Italian race, Tesfay winning in 1:09:02 with Dida the runner-up 19 seconds behind.
Meskerem Assefa has previous experience in Frankfurt. The 32-year-old finished third in 2:24:38 last year then made a solid improvement on her lifetime best when winning the Nagoya title in mid-March, running 2:21:45.
Another returning to the race along the River Main is the Sara Hall of the US, who was fifth place a year ago in 2:27:21. She improved further to 2:26:20 this past spring in Ottawa. And no marathon would be complete without Kenyan presence. Leading that charge is Nancy Kiprop, twice the winner of the Vienna City Marathon title. After winning in the Austrian capital last year she improved her best to 2:24:18 to retain the title this April.
“In terms of strength in depth, this is perhaps the strongest women’s field we’ve ever had," said race director Jo Schindler. "So we are looking forward to an exciting and high-class race. With four such fast performers we could see times close to 2:20 or even faster."
The course record is 2:21:01 set by Ethiopian Meselech Melkamu six years ago.
Organisers for the IAAF