Haile Gebrselassie and Vivian Cheruiyot are the top-seeded athletes for Sunday's Bupa Great Manchester 10-K, one of Europe's top road races and a great appetizer for the nascent track season. Both athletes have a very good chance for lowering the already fast course records of 27:21 and 31:07.
Gebrselassie last appeared in Manchester in 2005 when he won the race in 27:25, then a British all-comers record. But in 2007, Micah Kogo won a tough battle there with Zersenay Tadese and broke Gebrselassie's mark and set the current record. (Kogo would go on to also break Gebrselassie's world record over the distance at Brunssum earlier this year, clocking 27:01.)
Fabiano Joseph, the 2006 IAAF World Half-Marathon champion from Tanzania, looks to be Gebrselassie's top challenger. But 8-time European Cross Country champion Sergey Lebid of Ukraine and 2002 European 10,000m champion Chema Martinez of Spain could also contend.
Cheruiyot, who was fifth in the Beijing Olympics in the 10,000m, will have 2008 IAAF World Cross Country Championships silver medalist Mestewat Tufa of Ethiopia, and two-time ING New York City Marathon champion Jelena Prolopcuka of Latvia to contend with. Hungary's Aniko Kalovics and Portugal's Sara Moreira also have a good chance at a podium finish.
The 10-K race, which had about 24,000 finishers last year, will only be part of the day's athletics action in Manchester. Later in the day, using a special straight Mondo track put down on the streets, Usain Bolt will run in the 150m dash in the Bupa GreatCity Games. British sprinters Ricky Fifton and Simeon Williamson will give chase, all on live television on BBC2.