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Tirunesh Dibaba says research has been done so fast times will come

Tirunesh Dibaba heads the strongest women’s field ever assembled in Berlin. Among the Ethiopian’s leading rivals will be last year’s winner, Kenya’s Gladys Cherono and her compatriot Edna Kiplagat, a two-time world champion. Four women will sub-2:20 performances to their credit will be on the start line.

“I’ve heard a lot about the Berlin Marathon and did my research," Dibaba, a three-time Olympic and nine-time world champion on the track said. "I know very well that the course is very fast."

Dibaba will bring a 2:17:56 career best to the start. Only two women have run faster.

“I improved my training in preparation for Berlin and did more volume. I am very well prepared and want to beat my best time on Sunday."

Berlin will mark Dibaba's fourth marathon. None of her previous races had pacemakers specifically for her benefit but this will not be the case on Sunday. “Pacemakers are very important for a fast time," she said.

Mizuki Noguchi's course record of 2:19:12 has stood since 2005, a performance that is still the Asian record. If conditions are agreeable, that course record could fall.

“I expect that one woman will take the lead from the start and behind her a group will form which would be on course to break 2:20,” said race director Mark Milde. He was clearly referring to Dibaba.

Cherono won the title last year, running 2:20:23, but has a 2:19:25 personal best set in when winning the first of her two Berlin titles in 2015. “I want to break my personal best on Sunday,” Cherono said.

Meanwhile, her compatriot Kiplagat, who has been one of the marathon elite for many years, will be making her Berlin debut.

"It has always been my goal to run in Berlin," said Kiplagat, whose lifetime best is 2:19:50 and has raced to the world title in 2011 and 2013. "I know the course is fast and I shall try to run my best ever time."

The fourth runner with sub-2:20 credentials is Dibaba’s fellow Ethiopian Aselefech Mergia, who has clocked 2:19:31. Others expected in the chase are Ethiopia’s Ruti Aga, last year's runner up with a PB of 2:20:41 ad Japan’s Mizuki Matsuda, who ran a brilliant marathon debut in January, winning in Osaka with 2:22:44.

A record 44,389 runners from 133 countries have entered. Sunday's race will also kick-off the 12th edition of the Abbott World Marathon Majors series, which also includes the Tokyo, Boston, London, Chicago and New York marathons.

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