Over 30,000 runners from 42 countries and regions will participate in the 2018 Xiamen Marathon on Sunday, possibly in heavy rain according to the local weather forecast.
Ethiopian athlete Ayele Abshero, men's champion of 2012 Dubai Marathon with the personal best of 2 hours 4 minutes and 23 seconds, told Xinhua at the press conference on Saturday that it would be a big challenge to race in the heavy rain in wintertime.
"I'm very happy to run with such big crowd and I'm honored to enjoy the party," said Abshero, "the weather changes quickly these days and it might influence the result, but I won't see it too much."
The women's defending champion Meseret Mengistu Biru from Ethiopia, also the 2016 Beijing Marathon champion with the personal best of 2 hours 23 minutes and 26 seconds, seems very confident to retain the title.
"I know maybe it'll rain tomorrow but I think I'll win again, no matter the weather," said Biru.
The last time Xiamen marathon encountering the rainstorm is 12 years ago. The organizing committee switched the event from March to January in 2008 and no more heavy rains ever since.
Chinese athlete Yang Dinghong, the runner-up of the 13th National Games and the domestic men's best record holder in 2017, told Xinhua it would be his first time to compete in Xiamen race and he hoped to refresh his personal best by finishing less than 2 hours and 13 minutes.
Chen Ding, gold winner of 2012 London Olympic men's 20km walking race and the Xiamen Marathon's current image spokesman, will be among the participants as well.
He said it'd be an encouragement for a walking racer to run full marathon. "Both walking race and marathon need strength, patience and endurance. I did not finish last year and it'll be more difficult this year with rain, but I'll try to find the best of myself."