• Ethiopian has trained intensively for five months
• Dibaba has made transition from 10,000m to marathon
The greatest women's distance runner of all time arrived in London sporting electro-pink painted fingernails and giant silver earrings but Tirunesh Dibaba soon made it clear she was here on business before her marathon debut.
Dibaba is a sort of Ethiopian Mo Farah deluxe. She has three world records, five world championships, three Olympic gold medals and five world cross-country titles. And she is only 28.
She has done it on track and grass and mud; the question is whether she can handle 26.2 miles on limb-dulling concrete and asphalt. The bookies are sceptical. They make her fourth favourite at 6-1 but, while Dibaba is coy about her chances, she looks in shape to create waves by the Thames on Sunday.
"Yes the marathon is new to me," she said. "But I'm prepared. I've trained intensively for five months. It makes me quite confident for this marathon. I am ready."
She has also had her fellow Ethiopian Haile Gebrselassie, perhaps the greatest men's distance runner of all time, help with the transition from 10,000m to marathon. "Haile has been great with me," she said. "I am very grateful that he shared all his experience."
Dibaba should have made her debut in London last year but withdrew with a shin injury a month before the race. "I was about to come last year but the plane was delayed by one year," she joked. "Fortunately I am here today."
What Dibaba could not say is whether her 10,000m speed will carry up in distance. No one can. As she herself concedes: "It's difficult to change from one face to another face but I have done my best."
Dibaba expects her main challenge to come from her compatriot Tiki Gelana, whose time of 2hr 18min 58sec is nearly a minute faster than anyone else in the field. Gelana has mixed experiences of the British capital. In the 2012 Olympics she won marathon gold. In last year's London Marathon she was knocked down by the wheelchair athlete Josh Cassidy after 15km. Although she fought her back to the leaders, the energy expended was too much and she slipped back to finish in 16th.
Both Ethiopians have to beat the favourite, Priscah Jeptoo, last year's London Marathon winner. The Kenyan is Ms Consistency: in nine races over 26.2 miles she has won five times and been second three times and third once.
Two other Kenyans, Florence Kiplagat, the world half-marathon record holder, and Edna Kiplagat, who won gold at the world championships in Moscow in 2013, have live chances, too. It is a stacked race. You hope it will get the attention it deserves given the understandable Mo-mania.
The favourite for the men's race, Wilson Kipsang, said that the forecast of cool conditions and light winds could put his world record of 2:03:23 under threat. "The course is very nice," he said. "If the weather is good, with a strong field, the world record is very possible. But it will depend on the mental battle." Kipsang, the 2012 winner, does not believe Mo Farah is a big threat – albeit with a caveat. "I really don't feel he's a big threat but I don't count him out because he has been running good in 5,000m and 10,000m," he said.
The Welshman Steve Jones, whose 29-year British marathon record is in danger, was much more optimistic about Farah's chances. "It wouldn't be a surprise to anyone if he went out and shattered my record," he said. "It wouldn't surprise me if he won the race. He's going to go down as one of the great British runner of all time.
"He's probably going to get the British records from 1500m to the marathon. Why wouldn't he go out to try to win the race?"