Kolkata: Veteran long-distance runner Kenensia Bekele of Ethiopia will lead the mens field while Helah Kiprop and Valentine Kipketer (both Kenya) will compete in the womens in the TSK 25K marathon here on December 17.
Bekele has won over 21 Olympic and World Champion titles and broken six senior world records in a career spanning more than eight years.
The 35-year-old has won gold at the 10,000 metre in four straight World Championships. He won double Olympic Gold in Beijing in the 5,000m and 10,000m and repeated the feat in the Berlin World Championships.
He is also the only athlete to be world indoor, outdoor, cross-country and Olympic champion.
In 2014, Bekele made his marathon debut in Paris winning in 2:05:03. Two years later he shaved exactly two minutes of his personal best by setting a new Ethiopian record of 2:03:03 in Berlin marathon.
The men's flock could see Tanzanian Augustine Sulle emerge as the dark horse. After competing in Brazil, he began his European chapter with a wonderful debut in Amsterdam.
Kiprop will lead the women`s pack, with Kipketer and young Dibabe Kuma giving her a tough competition.
Helah is not new to India. She was the TCS World 10k champion in 2012 and won the Cochin Half Marathon in 2013.
She is an all-round athlete, holding a personal best of 31:44 for 10k, 67:39 for half marathon and 2:21:27 in marathon.
In 2015, she won the silver at the World Marathon Championships in Beijing and in 2016 she won the prestigious Tokyo marathon. She took the third place in both last year`s Delhi half marathon and this year`s Bengaluru 10K.
The elite field will see long distance runners from Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Eritrea and Tanzania besides Italy and South Africa.