There is competition among the world's top marathons for the bragging rights conferred by a world record. London boasts the women's best marque, 2hr 15min 25sec, courtesy of Paula Radcliffe 11 years ago. Berlin was the stage for the men's fastest time, 2:03.23, set last September by Wilson Kipsang. The Kenyan is in the field tomorrow, but what factors need to be in place for him or anyone else to improve on that time?
1. The weather
Former race director Dave Bedford knows if a record is on the cards simply by looking at the flags outside The Tower Hotel on the morning of the race. The wind is the key factor, and a predicted light breeze of 10mph from the north-west should not hamper the field unduly. Nor should humidity of just 50 per cent. Rain – there is a 30 per cent chance – would obviously slow the field.
2. The pace
It's obvious, but speed is needed to lower the world record. More than anything, though, it's about intelligent pacing, and the top runners will be led by the most experienced of all in pacemaker Haile Gebrselassie. The Ethiopian has said he aims to take the elite men through the 20km mark in 58 minutes, which would be 20 seconds quicker than at the same stage during Kipsang's world-record run in Berlin.
Farah has made it known that he won't be matching Gebrselassie's world-record pace, at least early on, but Nike have designed a shoe they believe will give Farah a cutting-edge. Labelled the 'Sub Two', in a nod to the target of eventually getting the world record under two hours, the shoe has been worked on by a 25-strong team.
Another obvious point, but even the best runners get their fluid intake wrong on the day. Take in too little fluid and dehydration becomes a threat; drink too much and hyponatraemia, a condition which lowers the sodium level in the body, becomes an issue. Farah fluffed his drinks collection when running half the race last year, and has practised taking his drinks off the wing mirrors of a car while training in Kenya.
5. Rivals working together
Defending champion Tsegaye Kebede has made it clear it's every man for himself today, but the Kenyan and Ethiopian contingents will work together to try and ramp up the tempo of the race and unsettle the likes of Farah. Geoffrey Mutai and Wilson Kipsang know each other well from training roughly 200 kilometres a week together in Kenya's Rift Valley.