Excitement is mounting in Yorkshire and across the north of England with just over four weeks until Sunday 20 October and the inaugural Plusnet Yorkshire marathon. The new event which sold-out within days of its launch in January has attracted a very strong elite field who will be chasing an impressive £12,000 prize pot - the biggest of any UK marathon outside of London.
Among the athletes making their way to York this October will be John Mutai of Kenya, 25, who holds a marathon personal best of 2:11:08. The winner of this year's Lake Annecy Marathon in France, he was also first home at the 2012 Edinburgh marathon. He has placed in the top two in three Edinburgh marathons and four Belfast marathons. With The Plusnet Yorkshire marathon's remarkably flat and fast course, Mutai is expected to put in an exceptional performance and has already been picked out as a potential winner.
Other male athletes looking for first place include Edwin Kiprop Korir, who will celebrate his 25th birthday on the day of the marathon. Edwin, from Kenya, finished second in Zurich marathon earlier this year and is one to watch.
Home-grown talent includes Paul Marchant from Leeds, the first Yorkshireman home at London marathon in April with a time of 2:27. Paul, 40, runs for Rothwell Harriers. Tarus Elly, 28, who lives in Manchester, will take on his first marathon in Yorkshire. Tarus was the winner of this year's Asda Foundation Pennine Lancashire 10K, second placed at the 2013 Chester half marathon and has a half marathon PB of 66 minutes.
The women's title will be hotly contested by Helen Cherono Koskei, 29, from Kenya, who has a PB of 2:29:33. She was second in the 2013 Belfast marathon and took the silver medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne. The Plusnet Yorkshire marathon will be the first UK race for rising star Tigist Sheni from Ethiopia. Tigist, 27, ran her 2:32:34 PB at this year's Zurich marathon, finishing in third - the same position she claimed in 2012. Tigist comes from the same town of Bekoji, Ethiopia, as the Dibaba sisters, Bekele brothers and the Olympic gold medallist Tiki Gelana. The town was part of the feature film Town of Runners.
British athlete Jocelyn Payne is another 'one to watch' having been placed third in the 2013 Greater Manchester marathon with a time of 2:45:58. Jocelyn, 23, from Doncaster, Yorkshire, is currently the fastest U23 female marathon runner in the UK - and has been since 2011. Having made great progress this year, she is hoping to finish the Plusnet Yorkshire marathon in a time of around 2:40.
Plusnet Yorkshire marathon event lead Lisa Ashcroft said: "Introducing such an impressive prize structure in our first year reinforces our ambitions to be among the UK's best marathons. That coupled with a flat and fast course, has led to much interest from elite athletes from Britain and across the world. We're looking forward to seeing some fast times on race day."
The marathon is being organised by a new organisation under the Jane Tomlinson events umbrella - the legacy of the late Yorkshire fundraiser and campaigner who raised almost £2m for charity by tackling a series of endurance challenges, despite being diagnosed with incurable cancer.
For more details go to the event website.