Xiamen: A new record is highly expected in the women`s section of Thursday`s Xiamen International Marathon, the first major marathon of 2014.
Zhang Yingying`s time of 2:22:38 has stood for six years but Ethiopia`s 24-year-old Mare Dibaba potentially has the credentials to challenge that mark.
In 2012, Dibaba had set a personal best 2:19:52 for third place in Dubai and is by far the fastest runner in the race.
Her compatriot, 27 year-old Alemitu Abera won in Houston in January 2012 with her yearly personal best of 2:23:14. Antoher Ethiopian, Emebet Etea was second in Seoul in March 2013, clocking 2:25:53 personal best. Ethiopian contingent, including Meseret Legesse (2:26:15) and Biruktayit Degefa (2:27:34), have another two runners with personal bests under 2:30.
Also in the race is Turkey`s Sultan Haydar who ran a 2:27:10 season`s best in Rome in March 2013 and holds the national record at 2:25:09 from 2012.
Organisers have made a slight adjustment to the 2014 course to make it faster and even more picturesque, adding the famous Zhongshan Road through Xiamen`s renowned historical district.