Mary Keitany - the winner of the women’s race at the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon - will be looking to add a fourth TCS New York City Marathon title to her glittering CV on Sunday.
Victory would also ensure the 35-year-old Kenyan reclaims her position at the top of the Abbott World Marathon Majors (AWMM) Series XI leaderboard from her Ethiopian adversary Tirunesh Dibaba who was runner-up to Keitany in London and then went on to win the Bank of America Chicago Marathon last month.
Keitany, who has won in New York for the past three years, will be racing her first marathon since winning the London Marathon in a stunning time of two hours 17 minutes and one second back in April – the second fastest time ever in an all-female race.
Her main rival in the Big Apple is likely to be Edna Kiplagat who was second at this year’s Boston Marathon and then runner-up at the 2017 World Championships in London – a result that places her fifth in the AWMM Series XI standings.
The Ethiopian challenge will be led by 2016 Olympic bronze medallist Mare Dibaba who did not finish this year’s London Marathon but returned to the capital to finish eighth in the World Championships marathon this summer.
American fans will be getting behind home favourite Shalane Flanagan who was runner-up in New York in 2010 and sixth in last year’s Olympics.
In a hard-to-predict men’s race, defending champion Ghirmay Ghebreslassie (Eritrea) will again be one of the favourites. Unlike the London Marathon, New York does not have pacemakers and Ghebreslassie, the former World Champion, has proved himself one of the best marathon runners in the world in championship and unpaced races.
If the pace is fast, however, then the former world record holder Wilson Kipsang (Kenya) is likely to be the man to beat. The 35-year-old, two-time London Marathon winner was a late entrant to the elite field in New York after dropping out of the Berlin Marathon at the 30 kilometre point.
Another name to watch out for will be the Kenyan Geoffrey Kamworor who has two World Cross Country titles and two World Half Marathon victories to his name.
No one from the AWMM Series XI leaderboard is in the men’s field so there will be some new names in the standings come Sunday evening.
In the men’s wheelchair race, the ‘Swiss Silver Bullet’ Marcel Hug will be looking to defend his New York title and add another 25 points to his AWMM Series XI leaderboard.
After being beaten by home favourite David Weir in London at the opening of Series XI, Hug has won the next two marathons on the calendar in Berlin and Chicago and will be hoping to make it an autumn clean sweep in New York.
The only other marathon defeat Hug has experienced in 2017 was in Tokyo (prior to the start of AWMM Series XI) when Sho Watanabe got the better of him. Watanabe will be aiming for a repeat in New York while his Japanese compatriot Kota Hokinoue (fourth in AWMM standings) will also be hoping for a strong showing, as will three-time New York Marathon winner Ernst van Dyk (South Africa).
Five-time champion Tatyana McFadden (USA) returns to New York seemingly back to her best and favourite to win the women’s wheelchair race. She had to spend time out of the sport earlier this year after suffering from blood clots to her legs but returned to win her seventh Chicago Marathon title last month.
In a stacked women’s line-up, the top three finishers in Chicago will all be going head-to-head again with Amanda McGrory (USA) and Manuela Schar (Switzerland) both confirmed to start.
Schar, who won the London Marathon in April, sits top of the AWM Series XI leaderboard with McGrory in second place and McFadden in third.
Britain’s Jade Jones also competes in the elite women’s wheelchair race.
The AWMM Series XI started at the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon and will finish at the 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon.
Abbott World Marathon Majors Series XI Leaderboard