Olympic champion Meseret Defar is set to make her long-anticipated marathon debut at the TCS Amsterdam Marathon. On Sunday 21 October, the two-time 5,000 metres Olympic champion and several-time world champion will show what she is capable of over the classic distance. To carry off the title she will have to beat Tadelech Bekele who won last year’s women’s race. Marathon debutants Meseret Belete, Linet Masai and Jackline Chepngeno are also capable of world-class performance.

Defar’s spectacular track record includes 5,000 metres gold at the 2004 and 2012 Olympics. And in 2007, at the height of her track career, she was named IAAF Athlete of the Year. Now 35, the Ethiopian athletics star has also been successful on tarmac, having set a personal best of 1:06:09 in the half marathon.

Tadelech Bekele will be looking to retain her title. After her convincing win in Amsterdam last year, the highly talented marathon runner went on to finish third at the London Marathon, achieving a new personal best of 2:21:40. The 27-year-old Ethiopian will have to shave half a minute off her best time to beat the course record of 2:21:09 set by Meseret Hailu in 2012.

Bekele will not be the only gifted Ethiopian athlete at the start line. Guteni Shone has a personal best of 2:23:32. Since her marathon debut in Amsterdam in 2013, she has become a force to be reckoned with in the international marathon scene. Ethiopian Meseret Belete will be making her debut at this year’s marathon, as will Kenyans Linet Masai and Jackline Chepngeno.

Organiser Le Champion is expecting big things of Linet Masai. She was the 10,000 metres world champion in 2009, won silver in the World Cross Country Championships in 2009, 2010 and 2011, was the Kenyan 10,000 metres champion in 2009 and 2010 and finished fourth in the Olympic 10,000 metres in 2008. Linet is also a familiar face at Le Champion events having won the Dam tot Damloop 10-mile road race in 2009 and 2014. Jackline Chepngeno also secured a place on the podium at the Dam tot Damloop and NN Egmond Half Marathon.

The elite line-up will include Dutch Miranda Boonstra, who will be running the Amsterdam course for the third time. With a personal best of 2:27:32, she is tipped to win the Dutch National Marathon, which will take place at this year’s TCS Amsterdam Marathon.