Looking ahead to the 2024 Paris Olympics, the Japan Association of Athletics Federations said Thursday it had prepared a suitably difficult challenge for its Oct. 15 Marathon Grand Championship Olympic qualifying event.

Anticipating a Paris marathon that may be the most difficult in Olympic history, Japan's main qualifying race will pose a real challenge to those wishing to represent Japan, the JAAF said.

"The winner here will also be able to tackle Paris," Senior JAAF Director Toshinari Takaoka said during a news conference.

The top two finishers in both the men's and women's fields at the race will earn Olympic berths, just as in the September 2019 event held ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.

The course, which repeatedly reverses back on itself, will start and finish at National Stadium and pass iconic locales including the Ginza shopping district and the Imperial Palace. Runners will follow a mostly downhill route for the first 5 km and retrace that part of the course before the finish.

"A tough course has been set with the aim of sending strong runners to the Paris Olympics," Takaoka said.

"We'll be able to see a race focused on victory and run without the assistance of any pacemakers."

As of Thursday, 48 runners have earned spots in the men's field and 26 in the women's field, compared with the 30 men and 10 women in the 2019 race.

The inaugural MGC started from and finished in Tokyo's Meiji Jingu Gaien district.