A select group of 13 runners will take part in their 40th consecutive KBC Dublin Marathon on Sunday as the race marks its ruby anniversary.

A record 22,500 participants, supported by 1,500 volunteers, will tackle the 42.2km/26.2 mile course around the city centre. Entries have been completely sold out since 1 July. 

Many international elite distance runners are set to compete against Ireland's top endurance athletes, who will also be battling it out for national titles, as the race serves as Athletics Ireland’s national championships.

For many others taking part, their achievement will be crossing the line. None more so than the 13 inspirational runners who have taken part in all 39 Dublin Marathons since the race began in 1979 and are set to complete their 40th in 2019.

This unique group includes Mary Nolan Hickey (Wicklow), the only woman to have finished all 39 marathons. Dublin is well represented with John McElhinney, Michael Carolan, Donal de Buitleir, Dominic Gallagher, Martin Kelly, Patrick Gowan and the eldest of the group, Frank Behan, who turns 79 next month. Five other counties are also represented: Seamus Cawley (Limerick), Seamus Dunne (Meath), Billy Harpur (Wexford), Peadar Nugent (Galway), Donal Ward (Donegal).

Speaking to RTÉ Sport two years ago, Martin Kelly recalled the first edition in 1979, which attracted just 2,000 entrants.

"The start was a free for all," he recalled.

"There were no chips and the start was quite wide. It may well have taken a few minutes to get through the start, but that was still your time."

Martin Kelly during the 1998 Dublin Marathon

In the elite fields, the 2018 Dublin Marathon winners Asefa Bekele and Mesera Dubiso from Ethiopia are both set to race. Bekele crossed the line in 2018 in a time 2:13:23.

He will face opposition from Othmane El Goumri of Morocco, who ran a personal best of 2:08:20 at the 2019 Rabat Marathon to finish second. Shambel Jimma of Ethiopia also ran a personal best of 2:10:28 in March to win the Chongqing International Marathon.

Irish reigning national marathon champion Mick Clohisey will be looking to defend his national title, with the Raheny man facing three previous Irish champions in Gary O'Hanlon (2017), Sergiu Ciobanu (2009, 2010, 2019) and Sean Hehir (2013).

Other major contenders will be Stephen Scullion, who recently competed in the World Athletics Championships and has the fastest marathon time by an Irish man this year having clocked 2:14:34 in Houston. 

Stephen Scullion finished 43rd at the marathon in the World Championships

David Flynn finished 13th last year in a time of 2:19:04 and will be looking to improve on this placing as he currently has the second fastest half marathon time in the Irish top performances of 2019.

In the international women’s field, last year’s winner Dubiso will be race favourite. 

Natasha Cockram of Wales, who placed fourth last year, has run a personal best this year of 2:34:18 in the Houston Marathon.

Also in contention will be Caroline Jepchirchir of Kenya, who finished fifth in Dublin last year and won the Belfast City marathon in a time of 2:36:39.

Irish Olympian Lizzie Lee, who finished third overall last year and is the reigning national champion, will not be lining up this year but will make a return in 2020.

Double national champion Laura Graham (2016 & 2017) will go head to head with number-one ranked marathon runner this year, Breege Connolly, who ran 2:37:50 in April in Rotterdam.

Other contenders include Ann Maire McGlynn, who ran a personal best of 2:39:22 in Rotterdam, and Barbara Sanchez, who will compete in her first marathon of the year and has a personal best of 2:37:14 set in 2013.

Sam Kolek of Poland and Britain's Callum Hall could well fight out the finish of the wheelchair race. 

The race will be live streamed via the KBC Dublin Marathon YouTube Page.

For details of the race route and road closures click here.