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Marathon season concludes with banner NYC field

<p>But this year's race comes back quite strong.</p>

But this year's race comes back quite strong.

The elite field consists of a who's who in men's marathon competition. Headlining the men's division are 2011 defending champion Geoffrey Mutai, five- time marathon winner Martin Lei, both from Kenya, and Uganda's Stephen Kiprotich, who is currently third in the World Marathon Majors standings, which offers $1 million to be split between the top male and female marathoners.

However, the man to beat in New York might be Ethiopia's new superman Tsegaye Kebede.

Kebede, 26, has a solid resume under his belt. He won the 2012 Chicago Marathon with a personal-best time and won the London Marathon earlier this year. He leads the marathon standings with 65 points, 15 better than Kiprotich.

If Kebede finishes first or second in New York and beats Kiprotich, Kebede will win WMM.

If Kiprotich wins and Kebede finishes third or lower, Kiprotich will win WMM.

If Kiprotich wins and Kebede finishes second, Kiprotich will win on a head-to- head tiebreaker.

If Kiprotich finishes second and Kebede scores no points, Kiprotich will win on a tiebreaker.

Kenya has brought an outstanding team to New York. Besides Mutai, Stanley Biwott, Wesley Korir and Peter Kirui are all among the world's best.

Among Americans, Ryan Hall of Palo Alto, Calif., withdrew from the race because of a hip injury. Hall, a two-time Olympian, also missed this year's Boston Marathon.

Meb Keflezighi of San Diego, sixth in the 2011 New York City Marathon, is a former winner of the event (2009) and should be among the leaders heading into Central Park. Keflezighi, who has been the top American finisher six times since 2002, is joined on the squad by Jason Hartmann, the top American finisher in the Boston Marathon the past two years, as well as Ryan Vail and Jeffrey Eggleston.

The women's side is headlined by former champions Firehiwot Dado (2011) of Ethiopia, Edna Kiplagat (2010) of Kenya and world-record holder Paula Radcliffe from Great Britain. Radcliffe is the fastest female marathoner in the world and holder of seven titles, including three in New York City.

The NYC race is not known for its speed, but if anyone looks to break that mark, it could come down to Kiplagat (personal best of 2:19.50) or fellow countrywoman Priscah Jeptoo (2:20.14).

No woman has ever run sub-2:22 in the New York event.

The top American women won't include Kara Goucher of Portland, who will miss the event because of a foot injury. Goucher made her marathon debut in New York back in 2008 and finished an impressive third. She was fifth in the 2011 Boston Marathon and was a member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team in London.

Kenya's Rita Jeptoo sits atop the women's leaderboard in the marathon standings. However, she is not running the NYC race. She won both the Boston and Chicago marathons earlier this year and has collected five marathon titles in her career.

The 2012-13 title comes down to the following scenarios:

Priscah Jeptoo must cross the finish line first in New York to win a share of the top prize.

Kiplagat must finish first or second and beat Priscah Jeptoo to win the WMM title outright.

If Priscah Jeptoo finishes second and/or Kiplagat finishes third, both athletes/all three athletes will be tied with 65 points. The head-to-head tiebreaker isn't applicable, so Rita Jeptoo would win the WMM crown.

The WMM consists of marathons in New York, Boston, Chicago, London, Berlin and Tokyo as well as the IAAF World Championships Marathon in Moscow and the London Olympic Marathon.

The New York City Marathon goes through all five boroughs of New York City. It begins in Staten Island, near the Verrazano Bridge, then moves into Brooklyn, alongside the East River. Queens is the next checkpoint, before the marathon crosses over the Queensboro Bridge and heads north to the Bronx. After a short stint in Yankee country, the runners complete their journey into Manhattan's Central Park.

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