Athletics: The world's fastest half marathon ready for special celebration
Any memorable milestone deserves to be celebrated in style and with less than 24 hours to go before the 10th edition of the Ras Al Khaimah Half Marathon, excitement is growing across the Middle East.
For the last decade the world's best distance runners have been travelling to this famous Emirate, for a race in which fortune follows fast times for those brave enough to be bold.
The hallmark of this RAK Half Marathon has been strength and depth and 2016 once again promises to deliver 2 top quality elite fields.
8 men in this year's line up have run quicker than 59.30, including Leonard Komon and Micah Kogo the 2 fastest men in history over 10km and Olympic marathon bronze medallist Wilson Kipsang, twice a winner in London.
The Kenyan trio are joined by a host of other top quality East Africans including 23 year old countryman Abraham Cheroben who became the joint 5th fastest in history 2 years ago with his 58.48 in Valencia and Ethiopian Berhanu Legese who scorched to victory in Delhi last November with a brilliant sprint finish in 59.20.
With Kenya's 2015 New York Marathon winner Stanley Biwott also in the mix, this race could see half a dozen men (or more) break 60 minutes in the quest for victory here tomorrow.
The women's race also boasts a line up and reputation of world class quality. 4 of the 6 fastest times in history have been recorded here in RAK and this year's field sees 11 women who have run quicker than 69 minutes and 6 who have ducked under 68.
World and Olympic marathon silver medallist Priscah Jeptoo arguably starts as one of the pre-race favourites, but this year's in form Houston half runner up Cynthia Limo and reigning world half marathon champion Gladys Cherono will be out to deny their famous compatriot a second RAK title in 3 years.
Ethiopia's charge is led by world cross country silver medallist Genet Yalew and her 28 year old team mate Wude Ayalew a 10,000m bronze medallist on the track in Berlin 7 years ago.
With so many genuine stars on display and the lure of the Rio Olympics just 6 months away, we may well see the two winners go very close to the course records currently held by Patrick Makau (58.52 in 2009) and Mary Keitany (65.50 in 2011).
In recent years this race has also signalled a change in attitudes to fitness in this part of the world. The elite fields will be followed home by thousands of fun runners out to enjoy a Friday morning festival of distance running at a slightly more leisurely pace here in Ras Al Khaimah.
The 10th installment of this drama is set to commence at 7am local time.