Paula Radcliffe defends her New York City Marathon title on Sunday but there will be a new men's winner since Kenyan Martin Lel is sidelined with a broken
|Goumri, behind in yellow, runs in the shadow of Martin Lel in 2007 [GALLO/GETTY]
Lel, however, has already anointed his successor, 32-year-old Moroccan Abderrahim Goumri, who was overtaken on the final Central Park stretch last year to finish runner-up.
Goumri also finished a close second to Lel in the 2007 London marathon.
Dreaming of winning
"I met him (Lel) this morning in the hotel," Goumri said.
"And he said, 'You should win this year because I'm not there.'"
Goumri said he had mixed feelings, since he was keen to avenge his past defeats on the race course against the Kenyan.
"I told him, 'Yes. I have come for winning. I am happy. I am not happy.
"I am sad for him, and I just want to race him again."
Besides the close seconds to Lel, Goumri showed his ability in London this year where he was third in 2:05:30, the fastest third-place in any marathon and sixth fastest of all time.
"I prepared very well. I feel very strong. I am still dreaming to win," said Goumri, seeking his first major marathon title.
Goumri still has his work cut out against a field that includes 2005 New York winner Paul Tergat of Kenya, 2004 champion Hendrick Ramaala of South Africa and 2006 winner Marilson Gomes dos Santos of Brazil.
Goumri will be looking to improve on a poor showing at the Beijing Olympics, where he finished 20th.
World women's record-holder Radcliffe, winner of seven of eight marathons she has completed, is also trying to recover from a disappointing result in Beijing where she finished 23rd after injuries hampered her preparation.
|Paula Radcliffe, who recently won the BUPA Great South Run in England [GALLO/GETTY]
The 34-year-old Briton has found renewal in New York before, winning the 2004 race after dropping out of the Athens Olympics marathon, and claiming last year's crown just 10 months after giving birth to her daughter.
A top-notch women's field also features Gete Wami, the two-times Berlin champion and close runner-up last year to long-time rival Radcliffe.
The Ethiopian took consolation by pocketing a $500,000 bonus for becoming the first World Marathon Majors champion last year.
Catherine Ndereba of Kenya, four-times winner of the Boston Marathon and twice Chicago marathon champion, and compatriot Rita Jeptoo, the 2006 Boston winner, are also in the field.
Making her marathon debut is American Kara Goucher, who posted top-10 finishes in both the 5,000 and 10,000 metres in Beijing.
"I think it's a really, really strong field," Radcliffe said.