Two-time champion Martin Lel has been forced to pull out of this weekend’s Great North Run due to injury.
The Kenyan, who won the event in 2007 and 2009, has withdrawn after struggling to overcome a long-term shin problem.
His absence will deny spectators the chance to watch him battle with Ethiopian great Haile Gebrselassie.
In another blow for organisers, two-time World Marathon Majors champion Irina Mikitenko has withdrawn from the women’s event.
The German, who switched nationality from Kazakhstan in 1998, has a personal best half-marathon time of one hour, eight minutes and 51 seconds but has not trained this week due to a cold.