Two of the world's fastest marathoners, Kenyans Patrick Makau and Wilson Kipsang, are lining up for an assault on the world record later this month on the streets of Berlin.
Makau, 28, will be returning to the German capital for the first time since he set the current official world mark of 2hr 03min 38sec on the same course two years ago.
"I have not been in the best of forms in recent marathon races but my training has been going well for the last three months," Makau, who has been training in the Ngong Hills southwest of the capital Nairobi, told AFP.
"Hopefully with the assistance of the pacesetters, we should be able to run under 2:03."
Kipsang set the official second best time of 2:03.42 in Frankfurt in 2011, and opted to skip last month's world athletics championships in Moscow to adequately prepare himself for the September 29 clash in Berlin -- a fast and flat course ideal for consistently fast splits.
"It is my first time to run on Berlin course. I watched Makau break the record there two years ago and felt that I could also have done the same," Kipsang told AFP from his Rift Valley training base of Iten.
"My target is to run a sub-2:03. It is a very exciting course for fast runners like me. This is the place where five world records have been set in the last 15 years and to add my name to the list will be my pinnacle," the 31-year-old Olympic bronze medallist said.
SUB-2 HOUR MARATHON
It will be the second time this year that Kenya's top runners have attempted the world record.
In London in April, a blistering first half of 61 minutes 34 seconds pushed Kipsang, Makau and others into the wall and the race was won by Ethiopian tactician Tsegaye Kebede in 2:06.04 -- disproving proving talk of an imminent sub-2 hour marathon.
Other Kenyans racing Berlin include former junior cross-country world champion Geoffrey Kipsang and Eliud Kipchoge, who will be running only his second marathon since shifting from the track. Both are considered to be well placed to upset their better-known countrymen.
World Marathon Majors champion and last year's Berlin winner Geoffrey Mutai, who ran a world best of 2:03.02 in Boston in 2011, said he will not be racing Berlin this month.
On the women's side, the favourite is Kenya's Florence Kiplagat who won the Berlin marathon in 2011. She will face reigning Boston marathon champion, Kenya's Sharon Cherop, and American Desiree Davila.