Kicking off the 2013 season of the World Marathon Majors on Sunday will be the Tokyo Marathon, the first event to be added to the race series since it was launched in 2006.
The addition of Tokyo to the WMM, which already included the Boston Marathon, Virgin London Marathon, BMW Berlin Marathon, Bank of America Chicago Marathon, and ING New York City Marathon, was announced last fall in New York.
The best field in the seven-year history of the race includes the fastest runners in history to have never won a marathon: Dennis Kimetto of Kenya, Dino Sefir of Ethiopia, and Jonathan Maiyo of Kenya.
Kimetto, the world record-holder for 25K (1:11:18), ran 2:04:16 to finish second in the BMW Berlin Marathon last fall, the fastest debut at the distance on a standard course and the fifth-fastest marathon ever run. In the 2012 Dubai Marathon, Sefir was runner-up in 2:04:50, with Maiyo fourth in 2:04:56.
“I am very prepared for this race,” Kimetto told Japanese media today, as reported by Reuters. “I don’t fear anything. I will try to see if I can run a 2:04 on this course.”
For the women, the race is likely to come down to a duel between Ethiopians Bezunesh Bekele and Aberu Kebede, both of whom own personal bests of 2:20:30. Bekele earned her time while finishing fourth in Dubai last year, and Kebede set hers in winning Berlin last fall.
“Our races are to our sport what Wimbledon and the Australian, U.S., and French Opens are to tennis, and what the Masters, U.S., and British Opens and PGA Championship are to golf. Each race has the history, the tradition, the honor roll of legendary champions, and a special place in the eyes of all to make them stand apart from the other events.” Mary Wittenberg