Defending T&T International Marathon champion Juan Cardona Rios of Colombia will aim for another title when the 34th edition of the race runs off from St Mary’s Junction, Freeport, tomorrow, from 5 am.

Before the runners begin their journey to White Hall around the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain, the walkers will start their trek from 3.30 am.

Rios, who won last year’s event in two hours, 21 minutes and 13 seconds (2:21:13), will compete against some familiar faces. Last year’s third place finisher Mark Chepses of Kenya (2:22:17) will challenge for the crown again, while veteran T&T runner Curtis Cox will have to improve on his time from last year if he wants to finish on top. Cox finished seventh last year in a time of 2:48:12, behind Guyanese Kelvin Johnson (2:40:18) who has confirmed his participation.

In the women’s category, Leah Kigen of Kenya will be one of the favourites. Kigen was third last year in 3:00:16. It is not definite if defending women’s champion Truphena Busieni of Kenya will compete tomorrow. Some of the other countries that will be represented at the marathon are St Lucia, USA, Canada, Great Britain and Spain.

President of the T&T Olympic Committee (TTOC) Brian Lewis and his team will walk the marathon to raise awareness and funds for the #10Golds24 Athlete Welfare and Preparation Fund, which was created in 2015 to support the nation’s athletes. The goal of the TTOC is to win ten or more gold medals by the 2024 Olympic Games.

Lewis has gotten the support of local entertainers as popular soca artiste Fay-Ann Lyons-Alvarez and a team of other entertainers will compete in the Marathon Relay. The Marathon Relay is a new edition to this year’s event as it allows between two to six people to join forces to complete the 26.2 mile journey. Chief Justice Ivor Archie, his wife and children will also support the TTOC cause by competing in the Marathon Relay.

Reema Carmona, wife of President Anthony Carmona, will compete with a team of runners in the Marathon Relay also. Carmona is an avid runner, competing in many events such as the UWI Half Marathon.