Eliud Kipchoge will aim to move one step closer to his dream of winning all six world marathon majors on Monday when he makes his long-awaited Boston Marathon debut as the famous race marks the 10th anniversary of the 2013 bombing that left three people dead.
The undisputed Kenyan king of marathon running has never run Boston – the world's oldest annual marathon first held in 1897 – but is tackling the hilly 26.2 mile course for the first time as part of a bid to complete his set of major victories.
The 38-year-old two-time Olympic marathon champion and world record holder has won the Berlin, Tokyo, London and Chicago marathons in his glittering career, leaving just Boston and New York as the only gaps on his CV.
Kipchoge aims to fill one of those holes on Monday when he lines up in what is being billed as one of the strongest Boston marathon fields ever assembled.
Kipchoge – the only man to run a sub two-hour marathon distance – has played down suggestions that he is planning to take a crack at the Boston course record of 2hr 3min 2sec set by compatriot Geoffrey Mutai in 2011.
"I'm targeting the win," Kipchoge told Letsrun.com in an interview this week when asked if he was aiming for the record.
Kipchoge has visited parts of the course and is unfazed by the undulating nature of the Boston terrain.
The course makes a significant drop in the opening four miles, features a sharp climb between the 16th and 21st miles, before another descent to the finish.
"I just ran it in my mind," Kipchoge said of the course. "It's a very good course. The hills are there, they are good."
Kipchoge meanwhile said that he does not consider his age to be a factor, maintaining that he feels just as fresh in training as he did earlier in his career.
"The challenge is just the training," Kipchoge said. "If my muscles can handle the training, I don't think about age. I know my age is coming, and one day I'll quit – and that's okay. But I don't concentrate on anything about age. I'm doing the program provided by my coach."
Yet though Kipchoge has been nearly unbeatable over the years – winning an incredible 15 of the 17 marathons he has entered – he will likely face stiff competition in a Boston field the includes five of the six world major marathon winners from 2022.
Leading the challengers are compatriot Evans Chebet, the reigning Boston and New York Marathon champion, and Benson Kipruto, the 2021 Boston champion who is also brimming with confidence after a victory in last October's Chicago Marathon.
There is also a similarly stacked field in the women's race, where five women who have ducked under 2hr 18min will be on the starting line.
Ethiopia's Amane Beriso will be one of the main women to watch after she clocked a blistering 2:14:58 in Valencia in December.
Others likely to be feature include Joyciline Jepkosgei, the 2019 New York and 2021 London marathon winner, Lonah Salpeter, the 2020 Tokyo marathon champion and reigning world champion Gotytom Gebreslase of Ethiopia.
Monday's race takes place 10 years after the bombing near the finish line that left three people dead and nearly 300 injured on April 15, 2013.
Boston Red Sox baseball icon David Ortiz – who famously gave a defiant rallying speech at Fenway Park in the aftermath of the atrocity – will serve as the Grand Marshal for Monday's race.
The bulk of the commemorative events in Boston will take place on Saturday, on the formal anniversary of the bombing, with a memorial service at a new commemorative finish line at Boylston Street in downtown Boston.
The Boston bombing was carried out by two Chechen-Kyrgyzstani-Americans, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
Tamerlan was killed following a shoot-out with police while Dzhokhar was captured and later sentenced to death after conviction at trial.