Local runner Sjaelan Evans will take on reigning women's champion Raquel Agudelo Berrio of Colombia, who will be back to defend her titles at this weekend's International Sea to Sea Marathon in Tobago.
The Colombian set the course record in the marathon with a clocking of three hours, three minutes and .08 seconds last year and also crossed first in the 10K to be the favourite to repeat.
However, Evans, who was the first T&T women's runner to complete the race course last year, placing fourth overall (3:19.55) in the category behind Berrio, USA's Mary Akor (3:09.14) and Kenya's Leah Kigen (3:18.55), respectively, will be one of Berrio's biggest challengers for the title.
Other local women competitors include Christine Regis, Chantal Le Maitre and Camille Hernandez, who will be racing for the top prize of $16,000 in the marathon on Sunday. The second place finisher gets $8,000, third $5,000 and fourth, $3,000.
Meanwhile, a new men's winner will be crowned as defending champion Pedro Mora of Venezuela will not be competing said race director Raymond Chin Asang, opening up the way for local runners Curtis Cox, Elvis Turner and Nigel Simon.
"Pedro Mora said the ticket is expensive, and he will not be coming," said Chin Asang.
Cox, 50, crossed third at the last edition in 3:02.2 behind Mora (2:39.03) and Colombian Jose Elmer Ararat Diaz (2:45.43). Simon (3:25.00) was the top finisher in the men's 40-49 category and was 10th overall.
According to Chin Asang, Kenyan Hillary Kiptanui Too is trying his very best to get to the sister isle for the annual event. He said the 2016 UWI SPEC Half-Marathon winner (1:05:48) is expected to arrive in Trinidad tomorrow.
"He will arrive on Friday (tomorrow) at Piarco without a ticket for Tobago. Even if we wanted to book a ticket for him we don't know his itinerary and it's too late now anyway. I have learnt a long time ago that runners are resilient people. It will be no surprise to see him in Tobago. When you are a runner you learn to be resilient," said Chin Asang in a Facebook post yesterday.
If Too, who won last year's Miami Marathon and the 2017 Quad Cities Marathon, do make it to Tobago, he and his fellow competitors will face the starter at Main Ridge Forest Reserve near Bloody Bay on the Caribbean Sea, proceed through the forest to Roxborough, Tobago’s second largest town located on the Atlantic Sea coast.
Athletes will then run south along Windward Road flanked by the Atlantic coast with seaside vistas, through picturesque villages to the capital Scarborough and on to the 26.2-mile distance finish line in Lambeau Beach, Little Rockly Bay on the Atlantic Ocean. The Half Marathon, 10K and 5K are also on the same route and all end at the same finish line in Lambeau Beach. The races are all chip timed and AIMS/IAAF certified.
In the half marathon also card for Sunday, T&T's Shirvan Baboolal, Richard Jones, Guswil George, Cantius Thomas, Celine Lestrade, Gina Hart, Roxanne McKenna and Genevieve Mummery will go for glory.
The 10K and 5K will run off on Saturday.
Prizes will be awarded for age groups as well as open categories. International runners qualify for open prizes only. Only local runners will be awarded age group prizes but there is an added incentive to regional competitors.
Chin Asang said, "There is Caricom category in the 10K, half, and marathon."
Prizes (Men's and women's)
1st. $16,000; 2nd. $8,000; 3rd. $5,000; 4th. $3,000
1st. $8,000; 2nd. $4,000; 3rd. $2,000; 4th. $1,000
1st. $5,000; 2nd. $3,000; 3rd. TT$2,000; 4th. $1,000