At one time, no one thought anyone could run a mile in under four minutes. Then came Roger Bannister. For years, no thought anyone could run a sub two-hour marathon. Now there’s Eliud Kipchoge.
Kipchoge, a 34-year-old Kenyan, made history by clocking a 1 hour, 59 minute and 40.2 second marathon at the INEOS 1:59 Challenge in Vienna. That’s a 4:33.5 minute per mile pace.
“Today we went to the Moon and came back to earth!” Kipchoge wrote on Twitter. “I am at a loss for words for all the support I have received from all over the world.”
While Kipchoge did the seemingly impossible, his performance will not be considered a world record because it was not run under open marathon conditions. He had dozens of pacers, a pace car that projected a laser beam so that he would be in the right position on the road, and cyclists who handed him drinks so he would not have to slow down.
Still, Kipchoge’s history-making 26.2 miles shows everyone else what is possible.
“I am feeling good,” Kipchoge said after the race. “It has taken 65 years for a human being to make history in the sport after Roger Bannister made history in 1954. It took another 63 years, I tried and I did not get it. Now it is 65 years later, I have tried and I got it. 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. I expect more people all over the world to run under two hours after today.”
— Eliud Kipchoge (@EliudKipchoge) October 12, 2019
The fact that it was Kipchoge who became the first to run a sub two-hour marathon comes as no surprise. He won the Olympic marathon in 2016 and set the world record at the 2018 Berlin Marathon with a time of 2:01:39. In that effort, he shaved 1 minute and 18 seconds off of the previous record, which is the greatest world record improvement in the distance since 1967.
Roger Bannister once said “The man who can drive himself further once the effort gets painful is the man who will win.”
Kipchoge, I suspect, would second that.