Kipchoge misses sub 2-hour marathon by a whisker

Hope Soto
May 14, 2017

The audacious yet controversial attempt to shatter the two-hour barrier for the marathon for the first time ended in glorious failure on Saturday as Eliud Kipchoge came within 26 seconds of achieving a feat many thought was impossible.

Kipchoge ran the 42.2 kilometres around an oval track in an impressive 2 hours and 25 seconds, unofficially smashing Dennis Kimetto's world mark of 2:02:57 by 2.5 minutes and raising hopes that one of world sport's most famous barriers can be broken.

Four-time Olympic medalist Eliud Kipchoge (won gold in Rio), two-time Boston victor Lelisa Desisa, and half marathon world-record holder Zersenay Tadese will toe the start line at a Formula One race track in Monza, Italy to do 17.5 laps.

David Bedford, a former British distance runner from the 1970s who held the 10,000-meter world record, has cast doubt over the "Breaking2" project.

Monza was chosen by the sportswear company for its gentle corners and favourable climatic conditions, while pacemakers were instructed to shield the trio from the wind and drinks were delivered to runners on scooters to save them from slowing down in collecting bottles.

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Nike produced shoes to be worn by the athletes making the attempt, the "Zoom Elite", pitched as the ideal blend of weightlessness, energy return and aerodynamics. The Kenyan is joined by Lelisa Desisa, two-time victor of the Boston marathon, and Zersanay Tadese, the current half-marathon world record holder.

Eliud averaged 4:36 per mile, but an approximate 4:34 was needed to run under two hours.

The time comfortably beats his previous personal best of 2:03:05, which he set at the 2016 London Marathon. Two other runners, Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia and Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea, fell out of contention early and finished several minutes behind. Instead, runners completed 17.5 laps around the 2.4km Monza Formula One track. "People will run faster and faster, similar to when Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile".

Desisa has two wins at the Boston Marathon, including the 2013 edition, which was disrupted by two bomb explosions at the finish line. In his time, he oversaw Khalid Khannouchi's men's world record in 2002 and, most notably, Paula Radcliffe's unparalleled time of 2:15:25 in 2003. They tested and integrated insights across the Nike Breaking2 project, gathered new data and observed first-hand the athletes daily training regimens and lifestyles, constantly looking for avenues where support could be provided. Other compared it to world automotive speed record attempts. "But I've never seen anything like what we saw today".

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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