Michael Rotich who three years ago on his last appearance set a course record of two hours six minutes and 33seconds, will be severely tested to win Sunday's 30th Paris International Marathon. The 23-year-old Kenyan faces over a dozen confident challengers not only from his own country but in particular other African nations.
Paul Biwott is intent on improving the runner-up slot he occupied last year, while other Kenyan's Joshua Chelanga, Boniface Usisivu, Julius Rotto - the 1999 champion - all have the capabilities to clinch the race. Biwott who prepared for the race by winning last month's Paris half marathon in a time of 1:02:12, will also be very wary from the presence of Patrick Twambe of the Congo, while Ethiopia's Tereje Wodajo, will also be a threat.
Estonian Pavel Loskutov and Ottavio Andriani from Italy, will be carrying European hopes at a meeting denuded of really top names by the fast approaching Boston and Flora London marathons.
Russia's Irina Timofeyeva with a time of 2:25:29, is the fastest entrant in the woman's field where Florence Barsosio the Kenyan runner-up last year, is eager to repeat her 2001 victory. Asmae Leghzaoui although a debutant but an outstanding road runner after last year returning from a two-years drugs suspension, is strongly fancied to to make a significant impact in the race. Both the 29-year-old Moroccan and Mihaela Botezan from Romania have the credentials to challenge for the title. David Martin