There is far more to tomorrow’s London Marathon than the ironic quip by a British comedian that he hated the event because it was racist.
Why, he was asked? “Because there are 40 000 runners chasing five skinny Kenyans around the city,” was his whimsical reply.
Perhaps that is a slightly flippant view of one of the planet’s major road races, a running extravaganza that means many different things to many different people.
The club members and those who run for charity in virtually any bizarre costume you can possibly imagine have a very real place.
But it is the finely-tuned athletes, the true contenders for line honours, who provide the ethereal soul of the event.
It is four long years since Paula Radcliffe said goodbye to the elite race which more than any had defined her.
Radcliffe is the current world record holder for the women’s marathon, which she set during the 2003 London Marathon, with a time of 2:15:25.
The performance is one of the highest of score’s values in terms of the IAAF world ranking points.
Radcliffe is also the current world record holder for the women’s road 10km in a time of 30 minutes and 21 seconds.
She achieved this mark on February 23, 2003 in the World’s Best 10K in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Radcliffe also won the 2004 New York City Marathon in a time of 2:23:10, beating Kenya’s Susan Chepkemei.
But this year, Radcliffe’s phenomenal legacy faces a serious challenge in the diminutive form of last year’s winner, Kenya’s Mary Keitany.
The confident Kenyan boldly stated: “I have my focus on the world record and hopefully with the help of male pacesetters I will be able to shave a few seconds off the time.
“If you compare last year to this year, last year I went almost alone from halfway.
“This year I will have someone with me all the way.”
Those male pacemakers – a novel innovation which has not been roundly welcomed – could make all the difference in her quest to set a new world mark.
The true test will come on a day that has been forecast to be hot and the proving ground will once again be the unyielding streets of London.