Paula Radcliffe during the BUPA Great South Run

The New York City Marathon will have unprecedented coverage this Sunday. In addition to a same-day delayed hourlong highlights show on NBC (Nov. 2 at 3 pm/ET) and the local coverage in the New York area on WNBC (starting at 9 am/ET), the 30 million U.S. households with NBC's Universal Sports cable channel can also watch the entire race, live at 9 am/ET. (And if you don't have the channel, you can watch live streaming video at UniversalSports.com.) The 26.2-mile event, which is being run for the 39th time, has roughly 39,000 entrants, making it the largest marathon in the world.

The elite women's race goes off at 9:10 am, with one of the deepest fields ever assembled. (Elite men start at 9:40 along with the first of three waves of the masses.) Great Britain's Paula Radcliffe, a two-time New York City champion and the world-record holder (2:15:25), is the favorite. A stress fracture in her left thigh limited her training earlier this year and held her to only 23rd place at the Summer Olympics in August. She says she is recovered both from the injury and her effort in Beijing, calling it "less than a hard training run." She proved her fitness by breaking the British record for 10 miles last weekend and has always run well in the Big Apple. "The thing I find really special in New York is the way that it changes as you go through the different boroughs," Radcliffe says. "It's almost like running into a different city in terms of the atmosphere. Every time you head into the next borough, there's something to look forward to."

Radcliffe will also have to look forward to an expected duel with Kenya's Catherine Ndereba, the Olympic silver medalist. Ndereba, the second-fastest woman ever at 2:18:47, has earned the nickname Catherine the Great thanks to an impressive resume that includes two world championship gold medals and two Olympic silvers.

Other contenders include Ethiopia's Gete Wami, who finished a close second to Radcliffe last year, and American Olympian Kara Goucher, the bronze medalist in the 10,000-meter run at the 2007 world championships. Goucher, who is coached by three-time New York City Marathon winner Alberto Salazar, is making her debut at the distance.

On the celebrity front, America's Got Talent winner Neal E. Boyd will be singing the national anthem, and among those running the race are Women's World Cup soccer star Brandi Chastain, Olympic gymnastics icon Kerri Strug and actor (and Scarlett Johansson husband) Ryan Reynolds (National Lampoon's Van Wilder).