Kipchoge runs fastest marathon, fails to break two hours
(R-L) Ethiopian Lelisa Desisa, Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge and Eritrean Zersenay Tadese run behind pace-makers during an attempt to breake the two-hour marathon barrier at the Monza circuit in Italy, May 6, 2017. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo
Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge crosses the finish line during an attempt to breake the two-hour marathon barrier at the Monza circuit in Italy, May 6, 2017. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo
MONZA, Italy 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.
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.
A total of 30 pacemakers split into groups of six, taking turns to set a tempo in a race run 63 years to the day after Briton Roger Bannister became the first man to run a mile in less than four minutes.
The Monza track was chosen for its wide, sweeping curves, lack of undulation and cool, low-wind environment. The runners were also delivered essential fluids on the move by moped in order to prevent them slowing down at feeding stations.
The sub-two hour mark required a pace below four minutes and 35 seconds per mile, which the determined Kipchoge managed to match until falling behind the pace car in the last two laps of the 2.4 km circuit.
Kipchoge completed the first half of the race in 59:57, just one and a half minutes off the official half-marathon world record set by Saturday's second-place finisher, Tadese.
The 35-year-old Eritrean, the oldest competitor on Saturday, finished in 2:06:51, followed by the youngest, 26-year-old Desisa, in 2:14:10.
(Editing by John O'Brien)
06 MAY 2017 Report Monza, Italy
Kipchoge a 'happy man' in Monza
Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge produced the fastest ever time for the marathon distance at the Breaking2 race in Monza, Italy, running 2:00:25* on Saturday (6).
Held on a race track at 5:45am local time, Kipchoge lined up alongside half marathon world record-holder Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea and 2013 world silver medallist Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia to try to become the first men to cover 26.2 miles within two hours.
With a target pace of 14:13 for each 5km segment, the trio passed through the first five kilometres in 14:14 and reached 10km in 28:21. Desisa started to drop off the pace about 50 minutes into the race, leaving Kipchoge and Tadese to reach the half-way point in 59:57.
Tadese wasn’t able to maintain the pace for much longer, but Kipchoge soldiered on. His times at 30km (1:25:20) and 35km (1:39:37) suggested he was slipping outside the target pace but that a sub-two-hour finish may still be possible. But his 40km split of 1:54:00 all but confirmed that it would take a huge final effort to finish within two hours.
Cheered on by the final group of pace makers, Kipchoge used whatever energy he had left to drive for the line, eventually stopping the clock at 2:00:25.
“My mind was fully on finishing within two hours, but on the last lap I lost 10 seconds and the time escaped,” said Kipchoge. “It has been hard, it has taken seven good months of preparation and dedication. This journey has been a long challenge, but I’m a happy man to run a marathon in two hours.
“We are now just 25 seconds away,” he added. “I believe in good preparation and good planning. With that, these 25 seconds will go. I hope next time people believe it is possible.”
Tadese crossed the line several minutes later in 2:06:51 while Desisa followed in 2:14:10.
Years of planning had gone into the race where precise strategies for pacing and hydration had been put in place with the simple goal of covering the distance as fast as humanly possible.
*Some of the measures mean that times achieved in the race may not be eligible for official world record ratification should an application be made.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF