- Dmytro Baranovsky (UKR) (2nd in Fukuoka last year in 2:07:15
- Worku Beyi (ETH) (28:43 10km PB)
- Abderrahim Goumri (MAR) (2nd in London in 2:07:44)
- Elias Kemboi (KEN) (2:09:36 winner in Rome this year)
- Julius Kibet (KEN) (Debuting in NYC, but a consistent top half-marathon placer)
- James Kwambai (KEN) (2nd at Boston this year, but no other big race places)
- Demesse Tefera (ETH) (Debut)
He hasn't quite achieved the status of his Kenyan predecessor, but a win in New York, to go alongside London (and a win in New York in 2003) would certainly cement his position. After seeing that race in London earlier this year, Lel was my pick to break the then-world record of Tergat. As we know, Gebrselassie did that in Berlin, and New York is unlikely to throw up any world records, but Lel is certainly our favourite for the men's race.
Women's field - Radcliffe returns!
In contrast to the men's field, there are no debutantes among the women and all are seasoned and experienced. But the main hype around the NYC Marathon for women is the return of Paula Radcliffe after a lengthy layoff. And even more exciting, she'll be taking on Catherine Ndereba, the current world champion, and Jelena Pro
- Claudia Camargo (ARG) (Top Argentine runner but with only a 2:35 marathon she should not feature)
- Elva Dryer (USA) (Top US runner, but likely will not feature in NYC; 2:31 at Chicago '06)
- Lidiya Grigoryeva (RUS) (2007 Boston champ; 5th last year in NYC)
- Salina Kosgei (KEN) (4th in NYC 2005)
- Tegla Loroupe (KEN) ('94 and '95 NYC champ; former WR holder in marathon in 2:20:43)
- Catherine Ndereba (KEN) ("Catherine the Great;" 4 time Boston and 2 time Chicago champion)
- Jelena Prokopcuka (LAT) (Two-time defending women's champion)
- Paula Radcliffe (GBR) (Current WR holder; returning the marathon after having a baby)
- Constantina Tomescu-Dita (ROM) (Incredible form in '06, but nowhere this year)
- Gete Wami (ETH) (Currently leading the Women's World Marathon Majors)
Of course this is a much anticipated women's race for two reasons:
- Prokopcuka's attempt to win three consecutive NYC's, and with it the World Marathon Title, which she had been leading until Gete Wami took first place after winning in Berlin just a month ago
- Paula Radcliffe's return to the distance after having her baby.
And then thrown into the mix, you have Ndereba, who has been in great condition, and Gete Wami, who apparently took Berlin relatively easy in an attempt to save herself for this race.
But it is Radclifee who is likely to garner much of the media attention leading up to the race. Radcliffe has shown in the past she has the strength and speed to beat them both in the marathon, but her form after childbirth is an unknown at this point. She made her comeback last month in the Great North Run, and was beaten into second by a remarkable performance by Kara Goucher. But Radcliffe still ran 67:53, a time that is a minute outside her PB for the distance (though she has run 2 minutes faster, but it was unratified). So that is certainly an encouraging comeback, and with 6 weeks between that race and NYC, there's a good chance she is at least approaching the sort of form she'll need.
A lot depends on the sort of training she was doing before the Great North Run. If that 67:53 performance was built off a really big mileage base, with limited speed work, then watch out! Because the marathon distance will probably not pose too many untoward challenges. If however her North Run performance was achieved with high emphasis on speed and little volume, then to build up to the marathon in 6 weeks is a very tough ask, and she may be found wanting at about 35 km, where Ndereba, Prokopcuka and the like will seek to drive home their advantage.
As for her tactics, it will be fascinating to see how she goes about the race. Her famed front-running tactics may not be the best way to go in this race, rather sit in and wait for the shake up in the final 5 or 6 km, when there are sure to be moves. But more than likely, she'll go out hard, so watch for an early fast pace by Radcliffe as she might try to run the others off her heels and break them early.
Whatever happens, there can have been few women's marathons as competitive and deep as this one. It should be a great race!
Join us later in the week for more build up to the race!
Ross & Jonathan