The line-up for this year’s TCS Amsterdam Marathon was announced at a press conference at Koninklijk Theater Carré today. The marathon, which will be held on Sunday, could easily see new records: the forecast conditions are favourable and the field includes an impressive international line-up. Race director Cees Pronk was accompanied at the press conference by Olympic champions Kenenisa Bekele and Meseret Defar, course record holder Lawrence Cherono and top Dutch marathon runner, Michel Butter.

Valentijn Trouw of Global Sports Communication revealed that the front group will be looking to break the course record. “The forecast is promising, with temperatures between 10 and 15 degrees, not much wind and comfortable humidity levels. A tight regime in terms of mid-course times won’t work. We’ll have to tailor the strategy during the race.”

Last year Lawrence Cherono set a new course record. The Kenyan finished his first marathon in Amsterdam in 2:05:09, establishing a new personal best. He was happy to recall the event. “I was thrilled with last year’s win. It was a good race on a flat course and the crowd was great.” Speaking of his goal for this year he said: “I’m pleased with my training and want to improve my time.”

Trouw introduced Kenenisa Bekele as possibly one of the greatest long distance runners of all time. He is the first and so far the only athlete to become Olympic, World Outdoor, World Indoor and World Cross Country champion. Bekele’s personal best of 2:03:03 makes him the favourite to win on Sunday. “I aim to beat the course record, but I am not familiar with the course. I will be able to draw on the strength and speed of my track performance during the marathon.”

The leading contenders in the men’s field are Mule Wasihun, Gideon Kipketer, Laban Korir, Kaan Özbilen and Jonathan Korir.

Michel Butter is looking forward to competing in the Dutch National Marathon, which will also be held on Sunday. He has vivid memories of the marathon, which for him takes place on home ground.” “I ran my personal best of 2:09:58 here in 2012 and failed to meet the Olympic qualifying time in 2015. Both were emotional moments. On Sunday I want to enjoy the race outside of a managed group and go head to head with my competitors.” His opponents include Edwin de Vries, Ronald Schröer and Gert-Jan Wassink.

The women’s line-up is also headed by a world-class runner. Ethiopia’s Meseret Defar will be making her long-anticipated marathon debut on Sunday. Her spectacular track record includes 5,000 metres gold at the 2004 and 2012 Olympics, two world championship 5,000 metres titles and four indoor 3,000 metres titles. She was resolute about her goals: “I want to start and finish. And I want to see how the race goes.” She too is pleased with her preparation for the race. “My training went well and my body is in good shape.”

The full start list can be found at www.tcsamsterdammarathon.nl.

The TCS Amsterdam Marathon will start at the Olympic Stadium at 9:30am on Sunday. The race will be watched live in 145 million homes in 120 countries. It will be broadcast on Eurosport, Ziggo Sport, NH and AT5 and live-streamed on www.tcsamsterdammarathon.nl. The Mizuno Half Marathon, the TCS 8K and several Kids Runs will also take place on Sunday.