Ethiopian Ayele Abshero, already being tipped to become the next world record holder for the marathon, will face compatriot Haile Gebrselassie and Kenyan Patrick Makau, the past and present incumbents of the title, at the Bupa Great Manchester Run next weekend.
Abshero first showed his vast potential for the future with his 2009 IAAF World Cross Country junior title, before steering a different career pathway from that normally adopted by Ethiopian athletes, including Gebrselassie, the world's greatest ever distance athlete.
Instead of chasing global titles on the track which Gebrselassie, a two-time Olympic 10,000m gold medallist did so successfully before stepping up to the marathon, the 21-year-old Abshero has already committed himself to a road running career.
That decision saw the young rookie become the world's fourth fastest ever marathoner on his debut at the distance, when clocking a superb time of 2:04:23 to win the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon at the end of January.
His time, in the heat of the United Arab Republic venue, was only 45 seconds slower than the performance achieved by Kenya's Makau when breaking Gebrselassie's three-year-old mark of 2:03:59 at the Berlin Marathon last September.
Now Abshero, along with Gebrselassie, Makau and Ethiopia's 2008 Olympic Marathon bronze medallist Tsegaye Kebede will step down in distance and head the line up for an intriguing 10k contest at the Bupa Great Manchester Run, which is an IAAF Gold Label event.
The 10th staging of the event, which was created as a legacy to Manchester staging the highly successful 2002 Commonwealth Games, will also see Kenya's former World 10,000m champion Linet Masai in action.
Masai, 22, who also has three IAAF World Cross Country silver medals to her credit, should bring the best out of Great Britain's Mara Yamauchi, who is presently preparing in the United States for her second successive Olympic marathon appearance.
However the strongest domestic challengers will be Gemma Steel, who has come on leaps and bounds in the last 12 months having beaten top Britons Paula Radcliffe and Jo Pavey over the 10k distance and the vastly talented Charlotte Purdue.
(With information from the Organisers)
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