He did it.
Eliud Kipchoge’s quest to become the first sub-two hour marathoner— through whatever means necessary— is complete: the 34-year-old Kenyan ran 1:59:40 on Saturday in Vienna, Austria, at the INEOS 1:59 Challenge. That equates to 4:33 per mile over 26.2 miles.
Flanked at all times by five interchangeable pacers in front and two behind him, Kipchoge stayed ahead of two-hour pace throughout the effort. Once it became clear that he was going to smash the barrier within the final kilometer, Kipchoge emerged from the pack to run the last straightaway all alone. He pointed to the crowd and celebrated an achievement that wasn’t thought to be possible until he himself made it so.
HISTORY! pic.twitter.com/qjLfofhL5s— Eliud Kipchoge (@EliudKipchoge) October 12, 2019
The preface to this incredible day occurred over two years ago on May 6, 2017, at Nike’s Breaking 2 event in Monza, Italy. There, Kipchoge fell short of the barrier with his 2:00:25 but he showed then that he was the man destined to crack the mark. A subsequent 2:01:39 world record in Berlin in 2018— over a minute faster than the previous best at the time— proved that Kipchoge was somehow still gaining strength as a marathoner.
In contrast to the Monza effort from 2017, where the barrier slowly slipped from his grasp in the final kilometers, Kipchoge never fell off pace on Saturday. With a laser line guiding the pacers in front of him, the Kenyan steadily clicked off one 2:50 kilometer after another, varying only down to 2:48 and up to 2:52. The only signs of fatigue came when Kipchoge broke out his patented smile, a technique he has long used to relax himself during the difficult moments of a race.
Of course, this mark will not be ratified as a world record by the IAAF. The use of interchangeable pacers and water being handed to him makes this run ineligible for such purposes. But this performance, and Eliud Kipchoge himself, has transcended all the granular details of long distance running.
October 12, 2019, was about one man making history with all available resources at his disposal. Kipchoge has shown the impossible to be possible, and like Roger Bannister and Neil Armstrong before him, he has set the stake in the ground for the rest of humanity to chase in perpetuity.
G.O.A.T.pic.twitter.com/zUeQdjarwg— FloTrack (@FloTrack) October 12, 2019