The invasion of runners for the 32nd T&T marathon (TTIM), half marathon and 5K this weekend has already begun.
Last year's marathon winner Juan Carlos Cardona (Colombia) will face very tough competition including three Kenyans, Hilary Kimaiyo, Phillip Lagat and Mark Chepses.
Cardona has represented his country in three Olympic marathons, but will probably have to improve on his winning time last year (2:23:51) to hold off Kimaiyo, winner of the 2103 Costa Rica marathon who has a best time of 2:08:17.
Lagat and Chepses are well known to T&T audiences having gained podium finishes in previous TTIMs.
Among the local runners, veteran Curtis Cox winner in 2005, always pulls out something special in this Marathon, but even among the Masters (Over 40) runners he will be getting stiff opposition from Jamaican veteran Andrew Gutzmore.
The female 2013 champion Leah Kigen (also a winner in Costa Rica) will be returning and will face another Jamaican Arieta Martin. But the overseas invasion is by no means limited to elite runners: a team of runners is coming from China and entries have also been received from USA, Canada, UK, Guyana, Brazil and Guadeloupe. The interest from many countries indicates that these events are becoming well known around the world.
The marathon and half marathon will be run on Sunday. The marathon will start at St Mary's Junction, Freeport at 5.00 am. Walkers and slow runners who are not expected to complete the marathon course in less than around 6 hours will start at 3.30 am. The half marathon will start at Walker Park, Caroni at 5.45 am. Both events will finish opposite Whitehall, Queens Park West with the first runner expected around 7.15 am. Spectators are invited; athletes will be crossing the finish lines until 12.00 noon.
The weekend of running will begin on Saturday with a schools relay at 3.00 pm and the 5K at 4.00 pm. Both these events are around the Queens Park Savannah with finish opposite Whitehall. Over 1,000 runners will be involved over the weekend.