THE race for the men’s title of the Guyana-leg of the South American 10km Classic has been blown wide open with the news that defending champion Peruvian Yerson Orellana, and his compatriot Luis Ostos, will not be here for the race which gets underway today at 16.00hrs.This news comes on the heels of Guyana’s top distance athlete and champion of the Suriname-leg of the race, Cleveland Forde earlier this week revealing that he will not be a part of today’s line up vying for the title.According to president of the Athletics Association of Guyana (AAG) Aubrey Hudson,the Peruvian contingent was unable to secure flights to get to Guyana in a timely manner, so instead decided to forgo the race.“They won’t be here. There were some complications in getting them here on time so they opted not to take part.When they looked at the travel time to get here, and when they would have had to leave, and when they were getting flights if they came,they would have gotten here sometime midday [today], and it would have been too hard for them to compete right after that.” Hudson related.It was only last year that Orellana and Ostos overwhelmed Guyana’s ’Little Kenyan’ when they placed first and second respectively,thereby ending Forde’s eight year dominanace of the event. Forde ultimately ended up finishing fourth after he was also unable to overcome Trinidad and Tobago based Kenyan, Kenneth Rotich. Rotich will also not be here.With all these leading athletes absent, it now leaves the race wide open for other top athletes like Trinidad’s Curtis Cox, who lost to Forde at the Caricom 10km back in July, as well as local boys Cleveland Thomas and Winston Missigher, who have continuously been hindered by Forde in their quest for a 10km title.Thomas and Missigher recently placed second and third respectively at the Suriname-leg of the Classic. The Classic is a three-part event with races in Guyana, Suriname and Panama. Today’s episode will mark the final leg of the race.Both Thomas and Missigher are confident ahead of their performance today, more motivated than ever at the thought of perhaps claiming their first title. Both are sorry at not having the kind of competition that Forde and the Peruvians would have brought to the table but as always are still working toward a title.“I put a lot of work into preparing for this race so I’m going into this race very confident and looking to do well,” said Thomas.Meanwhile, on the distaff side, Suriname’s Tonya Nero is back and will try to defend her title.However, Guyana’s Euleen Josiah-Tanner will not be there to challenge Nero. However,there will be others from Guyana like Ashanti Scott,who could perhaps take the opportunity to step up to the plate;there will also be Surinamese Genelva Dika.Today’s event is expected to have the participation of over 50 athletes.