Kipchoge runs fastest marathon, fails to break two hours

By Mark Bendeich

MONZA, Italy (Reuters) – Eliud Kipchoge ran the quickest recorded marathon on Saturday, crossing the line at the Monza Formula One track in two hours and 25 seconds but missing out on an ambitious attempt to break the two-hour barrier.

The 32-year-old’s time smashed the official mark of 2:02:57 set by fellow Kenyan Dennis Kimetto in Berlin in 2014 but will not enter the record books largely due to a non-compliant system of pacemaking.

“The is not the end of the attempt of runners on two hours,” the Olympic champion said after the race, likening the challenge to climbing a tree. “When you step on the branches… immediately you go to the next one.”

Kipchoge rated it as the finest performance in a career that includes a gold medal at the Rio Games last year and a personal best official time of 2:03:05, the third-fastest in history.

“This journey has been good, it has been hard, it has been seven months hard preparation. It has been history in the world of sport,” he added.

Kipchoge and the only other competitors, Eritrean Zersenay Tadese and Ethiopian Lelisa Desisa, ran behind an arrow-head formation of pacemakers, to reduce drag, and a car beaming a green line on the road behind it to show the required speed for the sub-two hour target.

Amid deep scepticism, Nike pitched the attempt as sport’s “moon shot”, with a keen eye on sales of its running shoes. It designed a lightweight shoe, Zoom Vaporfly Elite, with a carbon-fibre insole as part of the meticulous preparations.

Nike’s arch rival, German firm adidas, also has its own ‘Sub2’ project, also with a new shoe.

30 PACEMAKERS

In 2014, “Runners World” magazine predicted a sub-two under normal race conditions would not happen until 2075, based on analysis of more than 10,000 top marathon performances.

The race began in pre-dawn gloom at a brutal speed behind pacemakers, who were world class runners in their own right, including former world champion middle distance runner Bernard Lagat of the United States.

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