IO – Eliud Kipchoge has made sensational history. He has become the first athlete to run a marathon in under two hours. The Kenyan, 34, covered the 26.2 miles (42.2km) in one hour 59 minutes 40 seconds in the Ineos 1:59 Challenge in Vienna, Austria on Saturday. His run will not be recognised as the official marathon world record because it was not in open competition and he used a team of rotating pacemakers.
“This shows no one is limited,” said Kipchoge as quoted by BBC.
“Now I’ve done it – I am expecting more people to do it after me.”
Kipchoge, who compared the feat to being the first man on the moon in build-up to the event, said he had made history just as Britain’s Sir Roger Bannister did in running the first sub four-minute mile in 1954.
“I’m feeling good. After Roger Bannister made history, it took me another 65 years. I’ve tried and I’ve done it,” said the Kenyan. “I am the happiest man in the world to be the first human to run under two hours and I can tell people that no human is limited.”
“This shows the positivity of sport. I want to make it a clean and interesting sport. Together when we run, we can make it a beautiful world.”
With a leading pace car beaming green lasers on to the road to indicate the required pace of 2:50 per kilometre, Kipchoge never went slower than 2:52. To break the mark, he had to run 100m in 17.08 seconds 422 times in a row at a speed of 21.1kph (13.1 mph). He was 10 seconds ahead of schedule at the halfway mark, before appearing to slow with a few 2:52 kilometres, only to regain the pace and kick on in the final stages.
Kipchoge was assisted by a team of 42 pacemakers, including Olympic 1500m champion Matthew Centrowitz, Olympic 5,000m silver medallist Paul Chelimo and the Ingebrigtsen brothers Jakob, Filip and Henrik.
They rotated in and out, running in formation around Kipchoge, with former 1500m and 5,000m world champion Bernard Lagat anchoring the final leg.
“They are among the best athletes in the world – so thank you,” added Kipchoge. “I appreciate them for accepting this job. We did this one together.”
Kipchoge’s coaches delivered him water and energy gels by bike over 4.4 laps of a 5.97-mile course in the city’s Prater park, instead of having to pick refreshments up from a table as in normal competition marathons.
These aids are not allowed under the rules of the IAAF, athletics’ world governing body, which is why it will not recognise this feat as the official marathon world record.
Ahead of his record-breaking attempt, Kipchoge said that “to have a legitimate chance of breaking the two-hour barrier is really simple. It’s actually believing and accepting that you can do it.” The International Association of Athletics Federations has congratulated Kipchoge for his achievement. His achievement was also hugely cheered on in his home country with crowds gathered around large screens erupting with joy after he crossed the finish line.
President Uhuru Kenyatta offered his congratulations to Kipchoge, telling him he had “made Kenya proud”.
“Your win today, will inspire tens of future generations to dream big and to aspire for greatness,” he added as quoted by Euronews. (rp)