Tokyo marathon makes its debut as a 'major' tomorrow (24 February) and there are high hopes of Victor Rothlin's 2008 record of 2:07:23 being broken. The race is the biggest marathon in Asia with 36,000 participants and was awarded world major marathon status last year, putting it alongside Boston, London Berlin, Chicago and New York.
There is a strong elite men's field this year including four runners who have PBs of less than two hours and five minutes. Dennis Kimetto holds the fastest time in the field (2:04:16) and is confident of bettering it on Sunday. hHe said: "I am very prepared for this race. I don't fear anything. I will try to see if I can run a 2:04 on this course."
The Kenyan will face stiff opposition in defending champion and compatriot, Michael Kipyego, who said: "My training went well. I am here to defend my title. The field is strong and a 2:05 is possible."
The top ranked female runner is Germany's Irina Mikitenko with 2:19:19 who will have to beat the Ethiopian trio of Bezunesh Bekele, Aberu Kebede and Atsede Habtamu (the defending champion), as well as 2011 Boston champion Caroline Cheptanui Kilel.
Around 10 percent of the field is from overseas, including British runners who secured coveted start places - there are 300,000 applications for Tokyo marathon - with specialist travel company, Sports Tours International.
One UK runner who made the trip with Sports Tours International in 2012 said: "I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. Tokyo was a fascinating city. The night life was great. The Fuji trip and the sightseeing were excellent and the Bullet train, sensational. All the logistics of the trip went perfectly particularly after the race - which of course is a critical time. The Japanese organisation and planning were done to perfection. So all in all one of the best marathons I have done."