Bangalore: Leading athletes from around the world, including a world champion and a Commonwealth Games winner, along with the cream of Indian athletes, will vie for top honours in the TCS World 10K Bangalore Run here on Sunday.
The race, promoted by Procam International and to be flagged off by Karnataka Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium will have a star-studded field.
Ethiopia's Deriba Merga, past winner of both this event and the Delhi Half Marathon, will be seeking to re-establish himself as the most feared front runner in Road Racing.
Merga has already showed his form a little this year with a sub-60 minute half on the hilly New York Half Marathon and is in fine form. The other formidable Ethiopians include his compatriot Feyisa Lelisa, bronze medalist in the marathon in last year's World Championships.
Uganda's Moses Kipsiro has been runners-up in Bangalore and has already shown great track form this season over 5000m.
The Kenyan charge will be led by two new comers on the block. Dennis Kimetto burst onto the scene in February, winning the RAK Half, backing it up with a sub-60 minute run to win the Berlin Half. He then established himself as a world star last month when breaking the World record for 25km, again in Berlin. In three outings off Kenyan soil he is yet to be defeated.
Victor Kipchirchir will relish the challenge from Kimetto after his fine 59 minute half recently and Geoffrey Kipsang, runner up last term in Delhi will also, no doubt, be looking to go one better.
The women's race is no less impressive with Grace Momanyi, a past winner, heading the field along with her Kenyan Team mates, Philes Ongori (67 min half in 2012) and front running Doris Changeywo. Ethiopians Merima Mohammed, Namibian Hilalia Johannes and Hungarian Aniko Kalovics are the other fancied women athletes.
Indian long distance running ace Ram Singh Yadav will be using the TCS World 10K Bangalore as a time trial, part of his buildup to the marathon in the London Olympics and he hopes to also finish among the winners from a strong and talented Indian men's elite athlete field.
Yadav will have for competition the 22-year-old defending champion Suresh Kumar, who is looking to not only retain his crown but also improve upon his last year's time of 30.17 minutes.
In the absence of defending champion Kavita Raut and fancied names Sudha Singh and Preeja Sreedharan, the Indian women's challenge will be led by Lalita Babbar.
The women's category also has some promising new talent in Archana Pal, Monica Athre, Priyanka Patel and Kiran Tiwari, among others.
Besides individual glory, the athletes will also be fighting for honour in the Nation's Challenge, which will see participation from 27 states. The teams will comprise two male and one female athlete and the winner in the Nation's Challenge will stand to gain Rs 4.50 lakh, with the runner-up teams winning Rs 3.25 lakh, followed by 2.15 lakh and 1.10 lakh. The individual male and female winners will stand to gain Rs 1 lakh each, with prize money up to the first five places.
While the World 10K will have 136 participants, there will be 3060 in the Open 10K Run, 390 in the Corporate Challenge, 11,018 in the Majja Run, 785 in the Senior Citizens' Run and 91 in the Wheelchair Event.