1:59:40 – Eliud Kipchoge Obliterates Two-hour Marathon Barrier
In the world of distance running, completing a marathon under two hours used to be a mythical concept. There is no question that humans are becoming more skilled and efficient in terms of endurance. We can see this development in the proliferation of ultra marathon races around the world, and we can’t forget about adventure racing events that really push runners to somehow produce stamina under grueling conditions. Yiannis Kouros has completed 1,000 miles in less than 10.5 days, but the feat of crossing the marathon finish line under two hours remained elusive until 34-year-old Kenyan runner Eliud Kipchoge did so on a Saturday morning in Vienna.
A Significant Feat
Kipchoge already holds various competitive marathon records, but this one, which was timed at 1:59:40, holds great significance despite not being recognized by the International Association of Athletics Federations. The Kenyan athlete ran on a special course leveled by Austrian groundskeepers at Prater Park, wore custom-made shoes manufactured with advanced materials, had a team of professional runners setting the pace, and followed a car equipped with a laser-guided pointer throughout the 40 kilometers of the course; these are the reasons the IAAF cited in its decision to not credit Kipchoge with the record, but the fact remains that such conditions do not take away from the superhuman feat he accomplished.
Another Record is in His Sights
While it is true that Kipchoge had considerable advantages over Pheidippides, the Greek courier who ran the first marathon as part of a military mission around 500 B.C., researchers who study high-performance athletes and their physiology believe that the fastest possible marathon time would be 1:57:58. Dr. Michael Joyner, the researcher who made this peer-reviewed determination in 1991, was delighted to learn of Kipchoge’s accomplishment, and he also gave credence to something that the runner said during interviews after the race: There is still time to break this new record.
A Kenyan Hero
In his native Kenya, residents of Eldoret wildly celebrated news of Kipchoge’s record. The runner, who crossed the finish line with a Kenyan flag draped around his shoulders, will soon have a street named after him. In competitive races, Kipchoge has come close to completing a marathon in two hours; in fact, the record he currently holds for the Berlin Marathon was previously set by a fellow Kenyan runner, Dennis Kimetto. The fastest woman to run the marathon, Brigid Kosgei, also happens to be a Kenyan athlete.
Photo Credits: “File:Eliud Kipchoge in Berlin – 2015 (cropped).jpg”by Sikander is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0