Having recently become an IAAF Bronze Label Road Race, the New Taipei City Wan Jin Shi Marathon on Sunday (22) boasts its strongest ever field.
The course records of 2:17:17 and 2:34:52, both set last year by Hassane Ahouchar and Kim Ji Hyang, will surely come under threat and there is a USD$5000 bonus on offer for breaking those marks.
If conditions are good and the pacing is right, the Chinese Taipei all-comers’ records of 2:10:24 and 2:27:36 could even fall.
Eshetu Wendimu has the fastest PB of the entrants in the men’s race, but his best of 2:06:46 was set five years ago. His most recent marathon performance was 2:14:29 to finish fifth in Chunchon last year.
If Wendimu is unable to recapture his sub-2:10 form, Kenya’s Eliud Barngetuny could be the favourite. He has a 2:10:44 PB from his victory at the 2013 Lyon Marathon. He came close to that in his last marathon, finishing fourth in Beijing with 2:11:07.
Barngetuny’s compatriot Josphat Chobei is also in good form. He set a PB of 2:13:37 earlier this year in Hong Kong.
He may not challenge for the victory, but one notable entrant is Tanzania’s Sambu Andre Sipe. Now 42, Sipe won the world junior cross-country title in 1991 and made the 5000m final at the 1992 Olympics. He has a marathon PB of 2:09:52, set in 2004.
Kenya’s Ruth Wanjiru is the leading athlete in the women’s field. The 33-year-old set her PB of 2:27:38 at the 2009 Osaka Marathon and in 2013 she won the Eindhoven Marathon.
Aregu Lechisa of Ethiopia won the 2012 Cannes Marathon in a PB of 2:31:56, suggesting she could be Wanjiru’s toughest opponent.
Bahrain’s Eunice Chumba clocked 2:33:25 at the 2013 Hong Kong marathon, but since then has improved her half-marathon best to 1:10:46.
Temperatures on Sunday morning are expected to be about 19C with some light rain forecast. Almost 13,000 people are expected to line up for the various races on Sunday. IAAF vice president and pole vault legend Sergey Bubka will attend the opening ceremony.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF