World cross-country champion Imane Merga will take on Olympic 5000m bronze medallist Thomas Longosiwa on New YearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Eve at the BOclassic race in Bolzano, Italy.
EthiopiaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Merga, the 2011 World 10,000m bronze medallist, battled injuries during the peak of the 2012 and missed out on competing at the London Olympics. Longosiwa, meanwhile, excelled at the Games, having reduced his 5000m PB to 12:49.04 earlier in the summer.
But while the Kenyan had the upper hand during the track season, Merga has no recovered from his injuries and is keen to get back to winning ways. The 24-year-old is accustomed to the course too, having contested the past three editions of this race and winning it in 2010.
USAÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s World Championships 10,000m representative Scott Bauhs, who finished fifth in 2010, is also in the race, alongside ItalyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Olympic steeplechase finalist Yuri Floriani and Italian 5000m champion Stefano La Rosa.
Two-time World 5000m silver medallist Sylvia Kibet has been announced as the headline act for the womenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s race, which is held over 5km. She will face Afera Godfay, the 21-year-old Ethiopian who came close to defeating double World champion Vivian Cheruiyot in last yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s race.
MoroccoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Btissam Lakhouad, a sub-four-minute 1500m runner, and Italian 5000m champion Silvia Weissteiner have also been named in the womenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s field.
Around 15,000 spectators are expected to line the 10km course for what will be the 38th edition of the race.