Story of sub two-hour marathon bid

Eluid Kipchoge during his sub two-hour marathon attemptOn May 6 2017, three elite athletes – Eliud Kipchoge, Zersenay Tadese and Lelisa Desisa, attempted to run the first-ever sub two-hour marathon.

The Nike Breaking 2 challenge took place around Italy’s Autodromo Nazionale Monza, on a fixed 2.4-km loop. Watched by more than 19 million people worldwide, the event saw the Kenyan runner Kipchoge come within 25 seconds of the mark.

While the aim of getting the elusive 1:59:59 proved just out of range, the scientific background and training that went into the challenge is now being shown on National Geographic.

It’s been billed as the story of how “not making it” is one of the most heroic and amazing athletic feats ever.

The trio of runners met with a team of leading sports scientists for more than a year of testing, training analysis, product innovation design and development and customized race-day planning.

The hour-long documentary charts Kipchoge and company going through tests in wind tunnels and sports labs before embarking on the sub two-hour marathon attempt.

But it wasn’t all smiles and back slapping along the way. Indeed, when the sub two-hour marathon bid took place in May, there was some conjecture about whether the event was good for the pursuit of marathon running, or purely a marketing stunt.

The role science plays at the elite end of sport is constantly evolving. In fact, large parts of the film feature various data crunchers and technical bods.

The attempt unquestionably provides a great insight into just what the human body is capable of. At more than one stage Kipchoge was well on target to dip under two hours. It is therefore unlikely to be the last attempt at making history.

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According to the accompanying notes, the film: “Uncovers the power of human potential”. On that, it’s hard to argue.

Breaking2 aired on National Geographic last night (Sept 20) and can now be watched on YouTube here.

2 Responses

  1. This sounds fascinating! I just completed my first Ragnar race–it’s a relay race in the US. Lots of running in 24 hours with a team. I’m fascinated by the science behind sport. Though not an elite athlete myself, I think us “normals” can still benefit from what we learn about how to train and treat our bodies to get the most out of whatever it is we choose to do.

    • SFJ says:

      Agreed Angela, there’s even quite a few basic ideas we ‘normals’ can put into practice. It’s certainly food for thought.

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