- The time is almost two minutes shorter than its 2 hour, 1-minute and 39-second world record.
- "I feel good, my goal was to make history," Kipchoge said after crossing the finish line.
- The sport's governing body will not recognize Kipchoge's feat as a world record, due to its controversial elements.
Kenyan athlete Eliud Kipchoge became the first person to run a marathon in less than two hours. Kipchoge completed the 42.195 kilometer run in 1 hour, 59 minutes and 40 seconds in Vienna, Austria.
The time is almost two minutes shorter than its 2 hour, 1-minute and 39-second world record, which was achieved at the Berlin Marathon last year. Kipchoge achieved the feat in an unofficial race on a cold morning in Vienna, around Prater Park, organized just so that he would try to break the mark.
“I feel good, my goal was to make history,” Kipchoge said after crossing the finish line. “I tried and I am the happiest man to run below two hours to inspire many people, to tell people that no human being has limits,” he said, while comparing his feat with walking the moon for the first time. “It shows the positivity of the sport. I want to make athletics an interesting and clean sport. When we run together, we can make the world more beautiful,” he added.
According to the athlete, this was the most significant milestone in athletics since Roger Bannister became the first man to run a mile (1,609 meters) in less than four minutes in 1954. “After Bannister, it took 65 years to make history.” He added, “I can say I’m tired. It was a tough race. Remember, pacemakers are among the best athletes in the world. I appreciate them doing the work,” he added, referring to the athletes who accompany the leader in the race to determine your pace.
On Saturday, Kipchoge had 41 pacemakers who accompanied him throughout the marathon in alternating groups of seven men, many of them renowned athletes, as well as an electric car that launched lasers on the track, projecting the athlete’s ideal position. Running at an average speed of 2 minutes and 50 seconds per kilometer, which remained virtually constant throughout the race, the Kenyan completed half of the marathon in 59 minutes and 35 seconds, 11 seconds ahead of schedule.
For the final 500 meters, the pacemakers and the car stopped following Kipchoge, who opened his arms, pointed at the crowd and smiled as he finished the race and reached the desired mark. “That means a lot to Kenya,” he said.
The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), however, said it would not recognize the race as an official record, given the condition of the race. It was not an open competition, and had alternating pacemakers. The race, organized and funded by the British chemical company Ineos and titled challenge Ineos 1.59, was not without criticism. It was considered by some to be a media and commercial event, rather than a sporting one.
Only the organizer’s cameras were allowed to film the race, witnessed by numerous viewers, including four-time Tour de France winner and Ineos cycling team leader Chris Froome. Kipchoge is one of the greatest runners of all time. At 18, he won the Cross Country World Championship in Lausanne, Switzerland. Also in 2003, he took first place in the 5,000 meters at the Paris World Athletics Championships.
At the Olympics, the Kenyan won the 5,000-meter bronze medal in Athens in 2004, the silver medal in the same sport in Beijing in 2008, and eight years later was the major winner of the Rio 2016 Olympic marathon. The race on Saturday was Kipchoge’s second attempt to break the under-two hour marathon barrier. In Monza, Italy, two years ago, he failed by a mere 26 seconds.