The startline of Sunday’s Tokyo Marathon, the first World Marathon Major of 2015, will see a glaring hole in place of Geoffrey Mutai who has dropped out due to injury, though there is no shortage of other top calibre runners. Both men’s and women’s Olympic champions will be competing for their first titles in Tokyo.
Mutai, one of the fastest marathon runners of all time, filled the roll on the start list of the best of the best, but the men’s marathon will still see 21 runners line up with personal bests under 2:10.
Headlining the field will be defending champion Dickson Chumba of Kenya with a best of 2:04:32 from last year’s Chicago marathon. He also holds the course record in Tokyo from his win there last year.
Another big name on the start list is world and Olympic champion Stephen Kiprotich. The Ugandan has struggled in particularly fast races, holding a relatively modest a personal best of 2:07:20, but in a slower, tactical race he’s a serious threat.
Ethiopian Tsegaye Kebede, the bronze to Kiprotich’s gold at the 2012 Olympics, has won in London and Chicago and holds a 2:04:38 personal best from 2o12.
Another name to watch will be Ethiopia’s Tariku Bekeke, who won bronze in the 10,000m at the 2012 Olympics, making his marathon debut. The younger brother of distance running powerhouse Kenenisa Bekele, Tariku has the potential to compete with the very best, having been a world class runner for years who’s been slightly overshadowed by his brother’s success.
In the women’s race, Tiki Gelana is the star of the field, holding the fourth fastest women’s marathon time ever and the reigning Olympic champ. The Ethiopian ran 2:18:58 in 2012 and is the only woman on the start list with a personal best under 2:20.
There are six women in total with bests under 2:25, so a slower race could still make for an exciting one, especially when considering it’s been a few years since Gelana was at her best. Gelana’s top competition will come from compatriot Birhane Dibaba, the runner-up in Tokyo last year in her 2:22:30 personal best. Another woman to watch is Flomena Cheyech Daniel of Kenya, last year’s Paris champion in 2:22:44.
The race will begin at 9:10 a.m. local time, which is 7:10 p.m. EST.