Kenyan endurance ace Wilson Kipsang is aiming to get back to the top of the marathon tree in Tokyo where the 2017-2018 World Marathon Majors series continues on Sunday 25 February. The 35-year-old, once widely regarded as the world's No.1 marathoner - he claimed the world record at the 2013 Berlin Marathon with a time of 2:03:23 - has slipped behind fellow Kenyans Eliud Kipchoge and Dennis Kimetto since the latter established a new record of 2:02:57 at Berlin in 2014.
Meanwhile Kipchoge claimed the prestigious London marathon title in 2016 in a super-fast 2:03:05 before dominating last summer's headlines with his sub-2hour attempt at Monza race track in Italy as part of the Nike Breaking2 project.
Kipsang had a mixed autumn with a DNF at Berlin (where KIpchoge was the decisive winner) before a return to form and a narrow second place at New York City Marathon.
Kipsang's renewed confidence is based on a great run at last year's Tokyo Marathon where he was a comfortable winner, stopping the clock that day on 2:03:58. He was on course for a record time at 30k however a breeze and the lack of competition in the final quarter of the race scuppered his hopes. With the experience of the course and the Japanese conditions and also reports that he has intensified his training at high altitude at home in Kenya, there is optimism for a very fast time.
Kipsang has told reporters: "With good weather and good competition the course in Tokyo is capable of producing the world record and I will try and run fast and let the rest fall in place."
Kipsang's main competition will be Tesfaye Abera of Ethiopia and Feyisa Lilesa, the 2016 Olympic marathon silver medalist, while Dickson Chumba is a Tokyo regular and previous winner.
Interest in the woman's race will centre around Meseret Defar. The Ethiopian is a double Olympic champion at 5000m who has been transitioning from track to road over the last few years. Ruti Aga (Ethiopia) and Purity Cherotich Rionoripo (Kenya) are also expected to challenge for podium places.
As well as providing top international competition at the head of the field Tokyo Marathon is also a magnet for recreational runners from around the world particularly the UK and over 300,000 runners enter the ballot for one of 35,500 places. runABC's travel partner Sports Tours International is an official partner of the race and all of their packages come with the option of guaranteed entry into the race.
Highlights of their packages are the chance to spend a long weekend in Tokyo, one of the largest, most eclectic and exciting cities in the world, the opportunity to run one of the Abbott World Marathon Majors and luxury accommodation in the heart of Tokyo within walking distance of both the start of the race and the Shinjuku metro station.
Keep an eye on the Sports Tours International website for details of their 2019 Tokyo Marathon packages.