The Ethiopian won last year’s edition in a personal best of 2:06:17, the second-fastest winning time in the history of the race when contested as a marathon, although the former top-class steeplechaser was less impressive in his last outing over the classic distance and could only place eighth in 2:14:31 at the Hengshui Marathon in September.
“However, since the end of last year I have been preparing solely for this race. I have trained well and if the conditions are good, then I have a chance of breaking the course record,” said Jarso at a press conference on Friday.
Among his rivals will be Kenya’s course record-holder Wilson Loyanae, who won the 2012 race in 2:05:37.
No fewer than five men will be on the starting line in the Korean capital with career bests faster than 2:07:00.
Kenya’s Levy Matebo ran 2:05:16 when he finished second at the 2011 Frankfurt Marathon and although his form has been less impressive since, he did clock 2:08:09 to record his best marathon since his Frankfurt run to finish second in the Warsaw Marathon 11 months ago.
Another Kenyan, Eliud Kiptanui, propelled himself into the spotlight when he made a spectacular marathon debut and won the 2010 Prague Marathon in what remains his personal best of 2:05:39, but he has had a number of other good performances since then and clocked 2:07:28 to finish fifth at the Berlin Marathon last September.
Ethiopia’s Abreham Cherkos, a former world youth champion on the track, also has some fast times to his name.
Cherkos can boast of personal best of 2:06:13 from the 2011 Boston Marathon but finished fifth in Seoul last year in 2:07:08 and also came home second at the 2014 Shanghai Marathon last November in 2:08:47, his last international race over any distance