The current Standard Chartered Marathon women's champion and her predecessor are set to clash in this year's edition tomorrow, joining a massive field of 1,800 runners at the Chater Road start. A 10km run, which attracted a field of more than 5,000 participants, starts at the Western Park indoor games hall. Chinese runner Zheng Guixia, who won the 1997 Hong Kong-Shenzhen cross-border marathon in two hours, 31 minutes and 33 seconds, was denied entry to the SAR event last year as the Chinese team were held up by visa problems. She is poised to face the defending champion, Russia's Alina Ivanova, who completed the New Airport Marathon last year in 2:39:26. The Chinese girl said yesterday she felt she would have won the event had she been able to compete. 'The time the Russian girl clocked was not so good,' Zheng, who clocked her personal best of 2:29.38 at the 1996 Beijing Marathon, said. But Zheng said she has not had enough preparation for the event after December's Asian Games in Bangkok, where she clinched the silver medal in the women's 10,000 metres. 'I don't know much about the Russian girl and I have not competed against her before,' said Zheng. 'As to my strategy, I have to see how my body condition is during the competition. If I feel strong, I would run to my own rhythm. Unlike two years ago when I led all the way, I would follow others at first this time around.' Ivanova, however, had a lot of respect for the Chinese girl, saying Zheng would be hard to beat. 'Her best time is very good. I don't know how my chances are, maybe I would have a better idea at the halfway mark.' 'I think to run 2:33.00 is a good result for me,' said Ivanova, whose personal best is 2:31.44, which she clocked in winning last year's Siberia International Marathon. Other top contenders for the women's title include Ethiopian Senait Teklu, who came second behind Ivanova in Hong Kong last year, China's Lu Jing, and Japan's Eiko Yamazaki and Hiroko Kinuki. In the men's event, Ethiopia's Belay Wolashe will defend his title against other top runners led by last year's runner-up Kenya's Mbarak Hussein. While Wolashe said he was in good form despite modest results in last week's cross-country challenge in his homeland and October's Reims Marathon in France, Hussein won the Honolulu Marathon late last year. New Zealand's Sean Wade, who has the second-fastest entry time behind Wolashe, said he was only hoping to finish in the top five as he had a leg operation last summer.