Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

Two-hour marathon record eludes Kenyan by 26 seconds


Team Kenya head coach Julius Kirwa and veteran long distance trainer David Letting noted that Kipchoge, who clocked 2 hours, 00minutes and 25 seconds while attempting to break the 2 hours mark on the Monza National Autodrome racing circuit on Saturday, was on course to break the world record. The sportswear giant's attempts to propel one of its athletes to the "impossible" feat of a sub-two-hour marathon may have come up an agonising 26 seconds short, but its #Breaking2 "moonshot" is likely to be remembered for setting new standards in sports marketing regardless.

The Kenyan as well as Ethiopia's Lelisa Desisa and Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea, the world half-marathon record holder, began their race at break of dawn, running behind an arrow-head of pace-setters and a auto beaming a green line on the road behind it to show the required speed for the sub-two hours target.

But Kipchoge said: "This is history".

Nike paid the three runners to forego the London and Berlin Marathons this year prompting some criticism of the event given the resources invested and the fact it will not count as a legitimate record.

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A composite picture of Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge (left), Ethiopia's Lelisa Desisa (centre) and Eritrea's Zersenay Tadese. The first marathon run at the official modern distance was at the 1908 Summer Olympics, when American Johnny Hayes finished in a time of 2:55:18.4.

Former 10,000-meter world record holder Dave Bedford is not buying the new time as the world record. "The aim of "Breaking2" was to pass the message that running less than two-hour marathon is possible". To come under the margin, Kipchoge would have been required to run at 13.1 miles per hour for the duration.

Slicing roughly three minutes off the marathon world record requires a ideal alignment of human physiology, state-of-the-art equipment and flawless conditions. Scientists had always believed a two-hour marathon was eventually possible, but not for decades.

Saturdays race was sponsored by Nike and involved just three competitors including Kipchoge.

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Going under two hours meant they would have to run each mile in an average of four minutes and 34 seconds - seven seconds a mile quicker than Kimetto managed in Berlin. Tadese finished the race in 2:06.51 and Desisa in 2:14.10.

Kipchoge was one of three runners who set out to break the two-hour barrier. It's a phenomenally hard pace to keep up, which is why Nike employed the use of 18 pace runners to help the three runners.

The three athletes also were equipped with a specially designed marathon shoe - lightweight, cushioned, thick soled, and fitted with a carbon plate to reduce the amount the foot flexes.

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