Eliud Kipchoge held a sub-4:34 pace over 26.2 miles, making him the fastest man ever to run that distance.
- On Saturday morning in Vienna, Austria, Eliud Kipchoge became the first person to break two hours in the marathon as part of the INEOS 1:59 Challenge.
- He finished in 1:59:40, holding a sub-4:34 pace for the 26.2 miles.
- It will not count as an official world record because standard competition rules for pacing and fluids weren’t followed.
After months of planning and narrowly missing the mark in 2017, Eliud Kipchoge ran the fastest 26.2 miles ever in front of thousands of fans in Vienna on Saturday morning—and crossed the seemingly impossible barrier of two hours.
The 34-year-old from Kenya, who is unparalleled in the marathon, further cemented his legacy by running 26.2 miles faster than anybody in history, finishing the time trial event in 1:59:40. He held a sub-4:34 pace for the distance.
“I wanted to run under two hours and show human beings can do a good job and lead a good life. It shows the positivity of sport,” Kipchoge said. “I want to make the sport an interesting sport whereby all the human beings can run and together we can make this world a beautiful world.”
The race started with fog and mist in Vienna, with temperatures in the high 40s and humidity at 90 percent—a bit above the “ideal” of 80 percent heading into it. There was a 10 percent chance of rain going into the day, and the light rain started around 58 minutes in.
The course chosen for the event was the Prater park in Vienna, which was selected after a worldwide search that used software to take into account factors like temperature, humidity, wind speed, and elevation to find locations with ideal racing parameters.
It included a 1.2K run from the city’s Reichsbrücke Bridge to the Praterstern roundabout, after which Kipchoge completed four flat, 9.6K laps in the tree-shaded park and a final stretch to hit the marathon distance.
The pace groups did their job, flowing in and out in front and behind of Kipchoge with no trouble. He hit his 10K split comfortably in 28:20—slightly ahead of two-hour pace—with the calm stride and bounce fans are used to seeing from the legendary runner.
He hit the 21K mark in 59:35, giving him some breathing room for reaching the two-hour goal. And in all, it was a race run at a clinical rhythm, with most of his kilometer splits not wavering between 2:48 to 2:52 per kilometer—from 33K to 40K, he hit 2:50 exactly for every split.
“The pacemakers did a great job, they are among the best runners of all time,” Kipchoge said. “I thank them and appreciate them for accepting to do the job.”
In May of 2017, Kipchoge came up just shy of the two-hour mark during Nike’s Breaking2 project, finishing with a time of 2:00:25 at a racetrack in Monza, Italy. He held an average pace of 4:35.7, but missed the mark.
In actual races, Kipchoge continued to be unmatched. He now holds the official world record for the fastest marathon with his performance at the 2018 Berlin race, when his 2:01:39 finish shaved 78 seconds off the previous mark. He followed that up by winning his fourth London Marathon in April of 2019. That put his marathon win streak at 10 straight, including an Olympic gold in 2016.
Kipchoge’s 1:59:40 will not count for record purposes because standard competition rules for pacing and fluids weren’t followed.
Just how likely was this? When researchers from Australia crunched data from marathon world records over the past 60 years, they concluded that there was a 10 percent likelihood that the two-hour mark would be fall in May of 2032, and just a 5 percent chance it would happen by 2024.
“Many ideologies [have] been going that no human will break the two-hour mark but personally, I have dared to try,” Kipchoge said in a video of the INEOS 1:59 Challenge documentary series leading into the event. “I am doing it to make history.”
Kipchoge often equated breaking two hours in the marathon to when man first walked on the moon. It would break barriers that humans thought were impossible.
Even with the ideal setup, the thoroughly planned fueling strategy, high-tech shoes, a plethora of pacers, and a car just ahead of him, Kipchoge did what he set out to do.
And just like when Roger Bannister eclipsed the four-minute mark in the mile in 1954, Kipchoge has inspired a new generation to push their limits in the future.
“It is a great feeling to make history in sport after Sir Roger Bannister in 1954. 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,” Kipchoge said. “I expect more people all over the world to run under two hours after today.”