BERLIN (AP) Despite the absence of both the defending and world champions, a strong field and favorable forecast ensure the 40th Berlin Marathon will be another fast one on Sunday.
Defending champ Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya is concentrating on the New York City Marathon in November, while world record-holder Patrick Makau has withdrawn due to an inflammation in his left knee.
However, world No. 2 and fellow Kenyan Wilson Kipsang is targeting Makau's record of 2 hours, 3 minutes, 38 seconds, which was set in Berlin in 2011. Kipsang was just four seconds short when winning in Frankfurt the same year.
"Right from the start, I've prepared to run very well here. It's in my mind to run the world record," Kipsang said on Friday. "Having run 2:03:42, I know it's possible. I've trained to my very best, and if everything goes well with the pacemakers and my colleagues, I think we can do it. It's a team effort."
Kipsang is joined by compatriots Eliud Kipchoge, who made his marathon debut aged 28 by winning in Hamburg in April, and the 21-year-old Geoffrey Kiptanui, a former junior cross-country world champion, who was third last year.
"My main target is to run under 2:05:30 and do a personal best. I will go with the pacemakers, but I can't say I'll run a world record," Kipchoge said.
Brazil's Marilson Dos Santos is also running.
Florence Kiplagat of Kenya is the women's favorite, despite playing down expectations of improving her personal best of 2:19:44, set when she won in 2011.
"I think I can run in the 2:19s, but not a minute faster than my best. I know I'm in good shape, but so is everyone else," Kiplagat said.
Kiplagat is joined by compatriots Georgina Rono, 2013 Boston champion Sharon Cherop, and the highly rated Helah Kiprop, who will make her debut.
American Desiree Davila, Sweden's Isabellah Andersson, and Japanese runners Remi Nakazato and Eri Hayakawa will also start.
German record-holder Irina Mikitenko hopes to improve the over-40 world best of 2:25:43.
"It's possible, but there's no point in talking about it. You still have to run 42 kilometers," the 41-year-old Mikitenko said.
Eight world records have been set at the Berlin Marathon, considered the world's fastest, and some 40,000 athletes are entered.
Security has been significantly increased in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing in April, when three people died and about 260 were injured.
"We don't want maximum security, but everyone should feel safe," said organizing company chief executive Juergen Lock.
This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings