Paris Marathon: Sunday's race, a dress rehearsal for the Games. GETTY IMAGES

The streets of the French capital will be the scene of a popular marathon this Sunday, with around 54,000 people taking part. The route will be different from the Olympic event, but it will serve as an appetizer, with Ethiopia's Abeje Ayana and Kenya's Vivian Cheruiyot the favourites.

There are no big names and the predictions do not suggest that any major records will be broken. But this Sunday, the annual edition of the Paris Marathon will serve as an appetiser for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. 

Four months before the Games, the streets of Paris will welcome the 54,000 runners who have registered to take part in the city's marathon. The route of the marathon will be different from that of the Olympic event, but it will still be an incentive. 

More than the 52,000 runners who took part in the 2023 edition are expected to take part, with the weather forecast for Sunday 7 April calling for cloudy skies but pleasant temperatures. It's the second largest marathon in the world after New York.

One of the most important events in the ultra-endurance calendar, the Paris Marathon has always been considered one of the best races in the world. In the men's race, Ethiopia's Abeje Ayana, who won in 2023 in 2:07:15, will be the favourite alongside compatriot Deso Gelmisa and Kenya's Elisha Rotich, who holds the Paris record of 2:04:21.

Participation is expected to exceed last year's figure, with 54,000 runners registered. GETTY IMAGES.
Participation is expected to exceed last year's figure, with 54,000 runners registered. GETTY IMAGES.

The battle for the women's title will be led by 39-year-old Kenyan Vivian Cheruiyot. The 2016 Olympic 5,000m champion has not run a marathon since 2019. The Paris course is a tough one, with some climbs that always deter the world's best athletes from competing, as they look for courses better suited to running a fast time.

There are only a few weeks left until the qualifying time limit (30 April). The death of Kiptum, the man credited with breaking the two hour mark in the marathon, has left athletics orphaned. Also missing from Sunday's race will be double Olympic champion Kipchoge, who paid tribute to Kiptum.

This means that those who have already qualified will be training for the Olympic event and avoiding unnecessary effort, while the rest will be looking for faster tracks, such as Rotterdam, Netherlands, in mid-April or London at the end of the month.

It is not easy to recover from a marathon. Running such a race four months before the Games is usually not ideal, but some runners need this minimum time to qualify.

Sunday's course in Paris is identical to last year's. Athletes will start on the Champs-Elysées, head to the Bois de Vincennes, run along the Seine and finish with a loop around the Bois de Boulogne before being cheered on at the Arc de Triomphe.
"Because of the rise in the level of the Seine," the route could change "very slightly" as there may be tunnels that are not accessible.

Sunday's route will be very different to that of the Paris 2024 Marathon, which will take place on 10 August for the men and 11 August for the women. For the Olympic Games, the marathon will start at the Paris City Hall and head towards Versailles. It will then return to Paris at the Esplanade des Invalides, near the Eiffel Tower.

Last year at the Paris Marathon, Ethiopia's Abeje Ayana won the men's race in his debut over the 42.197 metres in 2:07:15 and Kenya's Helah Kiprop won the women's race in 2:23:19, after overcoming a deficit of more than a minute.