Haile Gebrselassie is aiming to break his own marathon world record - and set his 27th world mark overall - in Dubai on Friday.
|Last year's winner, Gebrselassie is taking it all in his stride [EPA]
The 35-year-old Ethiopian will pick up a $1 million bonus - on top of the $250,000 winner's prize - if he improves on the record of 2 hours, 3 minutes and 59 seconds he set in Berlin in September.
"I cannot tell you what will happen on Friday," Gebrselassie said at a news conference.
"The world record is not a big issue, but it would be something.
"So we'll see."
Despite high expectations, he does not feel the pressure.
"Running is the best medicine for those under pressure,'' Gebrselassie said.
"This is not my first world record.
"I will be going for the 27th, because world records always mean something."
Gebrselassie, who trains at high altitude in Ethiopia, said he started preparing early for Friday's race.
"I feel when you attempt to do something, it must be perfect,'' he said.
"The course, the weather, the pacemakers.
"If everything is good on the day, then you can achieve what you plan to achieve.''
His top rivals will be Kenyans William Kiplagat and Nephat Kinyanjui, and Ethiopians Tesafye Tola, Gudisa Shentema and Gashaw Melese Asfaw.
He plans to run at a steady pace and hopes to run the first half of the race in less than 62 minutes.
"Nothing above 62.
"If it is 61.40 or 61.45 I will take it,'' said Gebrselassie, the first athlete to run a marathon in under 2:04.
Friday's race will take place on a flat and faster course than in previous years, which organisers believe may be enough for a new world record.
"The course compares favourably with that of 2008 (in Dubai), when Haile ran the second fastest marathon in history (2:04.53)," said Paul Hodgson, a course measurement official with the Association of International Marathons and Road Races.
"Although there is no significant change in elevation profile, we've eliminated the sinuous nature of the early and latter stages of the route, which will be appreciated by the elite athletes."
Hodgson designed the course for Friday' race.
"The route is a classic 'out and back' configuration with only a minor detour required to provide the mandatory distance,'' Hodgson said.
|Berhane Adere faces a tough field as defending champion [GALLO/GETTY]
Ethiopian Berhane Adere, who set the course record in Dubai last year and is the defending champion, leads the women's field.
She will face tough competition from Askale Tafa Magarsa, Bezunesh Bekele Sertsu and Kenya's Helena Kirop.
"I am here to repeat what I did last year and I am going to make sure I do that.
"The weather is perfect and I hope I am able to win again," said Adere, 35, whose first victory came in the 2007 Chicago Marathon.