Kolkata, Defending champion Degitu Azimeraw will square up against Kenya’s two-time world champion Florence Kiplagat in the women’s event of the Tata Steel Kolkata 25K run here on December 16.
Ethiopian Azimeraw, 18, surprised everyone by taking the honours in a TSK25K course record of 1:26.01 in her first international race last year.
Azimeraw will have a tough challenge at the start line with Kiplagat figuring in the elite field.
A former half marathon world record holder, Kiplagat had won a gold at the 2009 IAAF World Cross Country Championships and the 2010 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships besides emerging victorious in the Delhi Half Marathon twice.
Kiplagat will come to Kolkata with a burning desire to do well as last year an injury had forced her to pull out of the meet.
In fact, Kiplagat did not race for a year until she finished fourth at this year’s Chicago Marathon last month.
The men’s field will miss Ethiopian distance running legend Kenenisa Bekele who set a course record of 1:13:48 last year.
In Bekele’s absence compatriot Birhanu Legese, a two-time winner in Delhi, will lead the challenge.
Legese will face Kenya’s Eric Kiptanui, who can boast of being the third-fastest half marathon runner of 2018 after his 58:42 run in Berlin earlier in the year.
The men’s field also has Tanzanian marathon record holder Augustino Sulle who was third in the TSK25K in 2017.
“After successful events in Mumbai, Bengaluru and Delhi during 2018, it is Kolkata’s turn to take to the world stage,” Vivek Singh, Joint Managing Director of Procam International said.