• Chesir has been out of action since her third-place finish at the Roma-Ostia Half Marathon in March 2018.
•Other women to watch include Ethiopian duo Yetsehay Desalegn, who recorded her PB of 2:27:35 in Hangzhou two years ago, and Belainesh Yami Gurmu
Rebecca Chesir faces a stern test at the Shenzhen Marathon, a World Athletics Gold Label road race on Sunday.
With a PB of 2:24:25 set two years ago in Vienna, 27-year-old Chesir is the fastest entrant.
She went on to achieve two other runner-up finishes in 2017 but has been out of action since her third-place finish at the Roma-Ostia Half Marathon in March 2018. Chesir will be up against Muluhabt Tsega of Ethiopia.
Tsega finished second in Rome in April in 2:26:41, within one minute of the 2:25:48 PB she set last year in Shanghai. The 30-year-old’s most recent marathon victory was more than two years ago in Hangzhou, so she will be keen to end that drought in the southern Chinese city.
Nurit Shimels, also from Ethiopia, is another title contender. The 24-year-old improved to 2:27:40 in Cape Town two months ago and will be running her second race in Shenzhen following a runner-up finish in 2016.
Other women to watch include Ethiopian duo of Yetsehay Desalegn, who recorded her PB of 2:27:35 in Hangzhou two years ago, and Belainesh Yami Gurmu, who only started to run international marathons this year but won in Ibiza and Taiyuan.
In the men's category, Kenya's Julius Tuwei will be up against Ethiopia's Bekele Muluneh. The Ethiopian set a PB of 2:11:19 to finish second last year and will face a quality field that includes eight sub-2:10 runners.
Ethiopia’s 2013 world bronze medallist Tadese Tola is the fastest in the field, but his 2:04:49 PB was set six years ago. The last time he bettered 2:10 was back in 2014, while his most recent marathon was a 2:17:03 run in Dublin last year.
Fellow Ethiopian Fikadu Kebede is arguably the most in-form man in 2019. The 33-year-old trimmed more than a minute off his PB to 2:08:27 in Dubai in January and finished second in Dongying eight months ago in 2:09:38. It will be Kebede’s fifth marathon of the year, having won in Odense, Rabat and Mexico City.
Elsewhere Moses Mbugua and Eliud Kibet are returning to the Zurich Maratón de Málaga in the hope of breaking the race record at the World Athletics Bronze Label road race tomorrow
Mbugua, Kibet and fellow Kenyans Edwin Kimaiyo and James Barmasai will be aiming to better the current mark of 2:11:07.
Mbugua finished second in Malaga last year in a PB of 2:11:22. His 2:12:56 effort seven weeks ago in the altitude of Nairobi (1800m) suggests he’s in fine form.
Kibet looked to be on his way to a clear win in Malaga last year but he collapsed with just 40 metres remaining and eventually wound up fourth, albeit in a PB of 2:11:25. His only appearance this year has been a 2:14:30 win in Ibiza.
Kimaiyo boasts a 2:09:12 PB, but his best this year is 2:13:25 set in Hannover. This will be the 33-year-old’s third marathon of 2019. The 35-year-old Barmasai, meanwhile, is fresh from a victory in Münster in September in 2:11:40, just one second outside his PB.