The focus for many at Sunday's Virgin Money London Marathon may well be 'just' on getting around the 26 miles and 385 yards in one piece. The abundance of fancy dress and charity money raising participants will dominate the thousands of people taking part. Yet the elite fields for men and women contain perhaps the best assembled fields in the history of any marathon across the globe. The men's field contains no fewer than five of the seven fastest marathon runners of all time. The women's field includes the world record holder, the great Paula Radcliffe herself, although Kenya look destined to claim victory in that race as well.

Radcliffe is unlikely to feature anywhere near the front of the women's race, as she has declined a position in the elite field. Injury has long since limited her ambitions for the event, although she will still seek to be as competitive as her body allows her to be. It seems likely to be her last ever marathon race, although Radcliffe herself has seemed reticent to commit herself on that 'certainty'. 'Old' runners never want to retire too soon.

The women's elite race features Mary Keitany (the winner in 2011 and 2012), Edna Kiplagat (double World Champion and last year's winner), Florence Kiplagat (last year's runner up) and Priscah Jeptoo (2013 champion) all from Kenya.

Possibly the top two male marathon runners in the world at present are included in the elite men's field, with Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto from Kenya expected to go head to head. Kipsang is the defending champion in London and the former world record holder. 31-year-old Kimetto broke his compatriot's record when winning last year's Berlin Marathon. The record still stands at a remarkable 2:02:57 and seems unlikely to be broken on Sunday. The weather forecast (well this is Britain in April, after all) suggests rain and windy conditions. Suspicion still hangs over the Kenyan distance athletes' performances though, amid doping allegations, despite their undoubted talent. 

There will be poignancy in the form of the race starters for the 35th running of the event as well. The joint winners of the inaugural event, America's Dick Beardsley and Norway's Inge Simonsen are to set the masses off, ably assisted no doubt by Britain's female winner of that first marathon Joyce Smith.

Britons used to play more than a supporting role in the race, with four race winners in succession in the 1980s as Hugh Jones, Mike Gratton, Charlie Spedding and Steve Jones all took the crown. Allister Hutton and Eamonn Martin continued the home success into the 1990s. Those days are long gone though and the race tends to be dominated by the Africans these days. So much so that only two Brits, Scott Overall & Matthew Hynes are part of the elite men's field this year. 

At least the wheelchair races should feature the Brits in contention at the front of the races with David Weir competing in the men's event. Weir has six London Marathon wins under his belt so far, but will be hard pressed as ever by Switzerland's Marcel Hug. Shelly Woods should go close in the women's field although American Tatyana McFadden may well be the favourite for the title.