Kenya’s Kipchoge becomes first person to run a marathon in less than two hours

Author: CBS/AP Writer: Derrick Shaw
Published: Updated:
Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge celebrates after busting the mythical two-hour barrier for the marathon on October 12 2019 in Vienna. (ALEX HALADA/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES)

Eliud Kipchoge sent shockwaves through the world of sport on Saturday by becoming the first athlete to run a marathon in less than two hours. The Olympic champion and world record holder from Kenya clocked 1 hour, 59 minutes and 40.2 seconds at the INEOS 1:59 Challenge, an event set up for the attempt.

It won’t, however, count as a record.

Kipchoge, who compared his attempt earlier to a man landing on the moon, twice punched his chest in celebration and smiled when he finished.

“That was the best moment of my life,” he said before adding that he trained four-and-a-half months for his extraordinary race against the clock.

“This shows no one is limited,” he said, BBC News reported. 

“Now I’ve done it, I am expecting more people to do it after me.”

Starting at 8:15 a.m., Kipchoge was supported by 36 pacemakers who accompanied him in alternating groups, one of the reasons the IAAF will not ratify the time as a world record.

Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge on October 12, 2019 in Vienna. (ALEX HALADA/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES)

The groups were also helped by a pace car with a laser beam, projecting the ideal position on the road, and they received drinks handed over by cyclists and other runners to prevent them from having to slow down.

Running at an average pace of 2:50 minutes per kilometer (4:33.5 minutes per mile), Kipchoge was 11 seconds ahead of schedule halfway through his run. He then maintained his tempo until the pacemakers left him for the final 500 meters, where he sped up.

“I was really calm, I was just trying to maintain the pace,” said Kipchoge, adding he was never in doubt about breaking the barrier. “For me it was not 50-50, it was 90 percent.”

It was his second attempt at breaking the two-hour barrier, after missing out by 26 seconds at a similar event on the Formula One track in Monza, Italy, in May 2017.

Kipchoge, who took Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and has won 10 of his 11 marathons, holds the official world record of 2:01:39 since shattering the previous best mark by 78 seconds in Berlin last year. In near-perfect circumstances at the meticulously planned attempt, Kipchoge shaved almost two minutes off that time.

He was cheered by spectators along the course in Prater Park and there were celebrations in his home country before he had even finished.

“Hearty congratulations, Eliud Kipchoge,” President Uhuru Kenyatta said in a statement. “You’ve done it, you’ve made history and made Kenya proud. Your win today will inspire future generations to dream big and aspire to greatness. We celebrate you and wish you God’s blessings.”

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