Peter Kirui faces a stern test when he lines up against a powerful Ethiopian contingent at the Ottawa Marathon on May 24.

Kirui has personal best of 2:06.31 and will spearhead Kenya’s charge at the event alongside Alfers Lagat and Philip Kangogo. The two will be contesting their second marathons, having recorded respective debuts in 2:07:11 and 2:08:16 over the last seven months.

The Kenyan trio will be up against favourite Girmay Birhanu of Ethiopia who won the Daegu Marathon earlier this year. Birahanu has a personal best of 2:05:49, set in Dubai last year.

He is, however, the second-fastest athlete in the field after compatriot Dadi Yami, who clocked 2:05:41 also in Dubai back in 2012. Yami will equally be looking for his first career victory over 26.2 miles.

Joining him is 2009 Boston Marathon winner Deribe Merga. The 32-year-old has won the 10km in Ottawa twice but this will be his first marathon in Canada.

In the women’s category, Kenya will be represented by Rebecca Chesire and Agens Tirop.

Chesire recently set PBs of 1:08:21 for the half marathon and 2:25:22 for the marathon while Agnes Kiprop has a personal best of 2:23:54 in full marathon and finished third in Ottawa last year.

Meselech Melkamu will the pre-race favourite in the womens race. Melkamu’s recent Daegu victory in 2:27:24 was just the second marathon win of her career, following her 2:21:01 debut in Frankfurt in 2012. The 2009 world 10,000m silver medallist, whose 29:53.80 PB for that distance is the second-fastest performance of all time, will lead a high-calibre group of Ethiopian runners in Ottawa.

She will be competing with 2014 Houston and Rotterdam winner Abebech Afework, who set a PB of 2:23:33 in Dubai earlier this year. Joining them will be two-time Ottawa Marathon champion and previous event record-holder, Yeshi Esayias.

The 29-year-old has a personal best of 2:24:06 and this will be her fifth appearance in Ottawa. All three women will be looking to break the current event record of 2:24:31 set by Tigist Tufa, who won the London Marathon last month.

Organisers of the event expect records to fall again this year, thanks to a faster course, higher calibre pacers and a highly competitive field of runners for the event. Elite athlete coordinator Manny Rodrigues said he expects the course record and faster ties to be set.

Our men’s event record has been broken four times in the past five years, and the women’s three times in the past six years. We’re focused on creating the conditions to make this happen again.”

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