Tesfaye Lencho Anbesa, winner of last year's Nova Poshta Kyiv Half Marathon, will return to the IAAF Bronze Label road race in the Ukrainian capital on Sunday, April 22, in the hopes of bettering his time from last year.
Twelve months ago, the Ethiopian clocked a course record of 1:03:58 to win comfortably on what was his half marathon debut. He went on to significantly improve on that time to win in Bucharest one month later in 1:01:09, while more recently he clocked 1:01:53 in Milan last month, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) wrote.
But he may need another personal best on Sunday if he is to retain his title as he will line up against Nicholas Mulinge Makau.
The 27-year-old represented Kenya in the junior race at the 2007 IAAF World Cross Country Championships. With a PB of 1:00:58, set in Lugano in 2016, Makau owns the fastest PB of the field but his best clocking for the distance last year was 1:04:48 in Strasbourg.
If Anbesa and Makau are both in good form, there could be a revision of not just the course record, but also the Ukrainian all-comers' record of 1:03:22.
Dmytro Lashyn is the fastest of the domestic entrants. The 2007 European junior 10,000m champion owns a half marathon PB of 1:02:52 and won the 2016 national title at the distance. His most recent performance, however, was a 1:06:20 run at last month's Gdynia Half Marathon.
Roman Romanenko was the top Ukrainian finisher in Kyiv last year, landing him with the national title. He will be looking to revise his personal best of 1:03:22.
Marius Ionescu should also be in contention for a podium position. He has represented Romania in the marathon at six global championships, his best finish being an 11th place at the 2011 World Championships.
Others in the field include 2015 Italian 10,000m champion Said El Otmani and Ukrainian marathon record-holder Dmytro Baranovskyi.
Marion Jepkirui Limo has reached the podium in all seven half marathons she has contested to date, but is yet to win a race over 13.1 miles.
The Kenyan, who set a PB of 1:00:47 in Venlo last year, hopes to break that drought on Sunday and could even have the course record of 1:13:59 in her sights.
Fatna Maraoui is the fastest in the field, but her PB of 1:10:08 was set seven years ago. The 40-year-old, who has represented Italy at four different global championships, ran 2:33:18 to finish fifth at the Milan Marathon just two weeks ago, so might not be running on fresh legs.
National 5000m champion Yuliya Shmatenko will line up in Kyiv will realistic ambitions of landing a home victory. The Ukrainian set a PB of 1:11:22 in October last year, two months after competing in the 5000m at the World Championships in London.
Sofiya Yaremchuk was the top Ukrainian finisher – and national champion – last year, placing second overall.
Other Ukrainians in the field include 2015 European under-23 5000m bronze medallist Viktoriya Kalyuzhna, Olena Serdyuk and Darya Mykhaylova.