Defending men's champion Laban Moiben of Kenya, last year's runner-up Raji Assefa of Ethiopia and third-placed John Kyui of Kenya have all confirmed to run in the US $3,50,000 10th Standard Chartered Mumbai [ Images ] Marathon, on January 20.
The African trio is among the top 10 male entrants who all have clocked better timings than the course record of 2 hours, 9 minutes and 54 seconds, set by Ethiopian winner Girma Assefa in 2011, according to race promoters Procam International.
The two-year-old course mark is under serious threat of being obliterated as the race will feature 40 elite athletes taking part, with five pace-makers being pressed into action to egg them on.
Giving a fillip to their efforts will be course a record bonus of US $15,000, being offered for the first time by the race promoters.
The men's and women's winners will take home US $40,000 each.
Last year, Moiben and Assefa were locked in a close tussle for first place as both clocked at 2:10.48 second, the Kenyan finishing ahead of the Ethiopian by a fraction of a second.
This time, though, it's Assefa who comes with the huge reputation of being the fastest athlete in the field, having clocked 2:06.24s while winning the 2012 Paris Marathon.
Moiben, too, has had a good run in the year gone by, defending his title in the Ottawa Marathon with a personal best of 2:09.13 seconds.
Also making a historic return to Mumbai will be South African Hendrick Ramaala, the winner of the inaugural event in 2004.
After that triumph, Ramaala went on to win the New York Marathon and emerged one of the top marathoners in the world. Still running competitively at the age of 40, he clocked 2:12 seconds in 2012 Dubai [ Images ] Marathon.
The other top male athletes in the field are: Abraham Girma of Ethiopia (2:06.28, Amsterdam 2012), Francis Kibiwott of Kenya (2:07.32, Tiberias Marathon 2012), Elijah Kemboi of Kenya (2:07.51, Kosice Marathon 2012), Shumi Eticha of Ethiopia (2:09.03, Stockholm Marathon 2011), Joseph Maregu of Kenya (2:09.25), Joseph Kiptum of Kenya (2:09.56, Hannover
Marathon 2012) and William Kiplagat of Kenya.
The women's field will be led by Lishan Dula, an Ethiopian who now represents Bahrain and has a personal best of 2:26.56 seconds, clocked in the 2011 Rotterdam Marathon.
Lishan will face tough competition from Ethiopians Aberume Mekuria, winner of the 2012 Eindhoven Marathon, and Yeshimebet Tadse, third place finisher at the 2012 LA Marathon.
The other notable names in the women's field include Kenyans Valentin Kipketer, with a personal best of 2:28.02 seconds, and Margaret Toritich, besides Ethiopians Dinknesh Mekash, Fantu Jimma and Desta Tadesse.