Rahma Tusa will be targeting her third straight victory at the ACEA Rome Marathon, an IAAF Silver Label road race, on 8 April.
The 24-year-old Ethiopian, who has a 2:25:12 lifetime best, clocked 2:28:49 in 2016 and 2:27:21 last year. A third victory will equal the feat of her countrywoman Firehiwot Dado, who ran to titles in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
She'll be facing Kenyans Sharon Cherop (2:22:28) and Angela Tanui (2:26:31), Ethiopian Afera Berha Godfay (2:28:46) and 19-year-old Bahraini Dalilah Abdulkadir Gosa, who'll be making her debut over the distance.
The leading contenders in the men's race are Kenyan Jafred Chirchir Kipchuma and Ethiopian Girmay Birhanu, who arrive armed with nearly identical personal bests, 2:05:48) for the former and 2:05:49) for the latter.
Ethiopians Dejene Gonfa Debela (2:07:10), Birhanu Gedefa Chimdesa (2:08:03) are also expected to challenge.
14,100 runners have registered for the marathon which this year celebrates its 24th edition.
Organisers for the IAAF