This was stated by Ian Ladbrooke, elite athletes’ co-ordinator for the event which is scheduled to be held on May 31 here.
Grace had shared the title with Turkey’s Elvan Abeylegesse after a dead heat finish last year. The Kenyan’s pull-out means the event will miss defending champions in both sections. Zersenay Tadesse of Eritrea, winner in the men’s section last year, has not entered in this year’s competition.
However, despite their absence, the field is pretty strong this time too, with Ethiopian Deriba Merga leading the men’s field. Winner of the Boston Marathon this year, Merga clocked the year’s second fastest time of 27:23.9 while winning the Ottawa 10K last week in Canada.
Ethiopian Azelefech Mergia, who is in fine form this year, and Holland’s Hilda Kibet head the women’s list released on Thursday. A total of 23 elite athletes, all from Africa, have entered the men’s race while the women’s elite field also has 23 runners, with a sprinkling of Europeans.