The Ethiopian long distance great tasked with pacing the elite men’s field at this year’s London Marathon says the progress of the record proves sub-two is possible
Completing a marathon inside two hours might require each mile to be run in 4:35, but Ethiopian long distance great Haile Gebrselassie says it will happen one day.
The 40-year-old has recently been confirmed as the lead pacemaker for the elite men’s race at the Virgin Money London Marathon on April 13. Organisers say Gebrselassie, who has a marathon best of 2:03:59, will pace the leading men to the 30km point at world record speed.
“It will be my duty to keep the athletes in the proper way,” he said. “We will see on the day. You never know, maybe it will be a world record, I will be very happy.”
In order to better the current world record of 2:03:23 set by Wilson Kipsang at the Berlin Marathon last September, each mile would have to be run quicker than 4:43, with the double Olympic champion, who also won four world gold medals over 10,000m as well as twice breaking the marathon world record, needing to reach the 30km point at 1:27:43. According to time predictors, that would be about the equivalent of running a half-marathon in around 60:21.
But even if one of the elite men’s field, which is set to include the likes of Kipsang, double Olympic and world champion Mo Farah, reigning London Marathon champion Tsegaye Kebede, world and Olympic marathon champion Stephen Kiprotich and the London Marathon course record holder Emmanuel Mutai, does manage to break the world record, there’s still some way to go to dipping under the two-hour mark.
Gebrselassie says it is possible, though, citing the progress of the record over the years as proof that it can be done.
“Look at the progress of the record,” said the man who broke it in Berlin twice – once in 2007 and again the year later. “It will come. It is very easy now to run 60:00 or 59:00 flat for a half marathon.”
He said the development of contributing factors such as training, nutrition, shoes, pacemakers and the design of the courses mean the world record will again be broken, and eventually the two-hour barrier also.
“It’s possible. That will happen, one day,” he said. “It’s not only the performance of the athlete, it’s the technology, there’s no question about that.”
He added: “According to my calculation, very soon in 20 years or 18 years, an athlete will run in under two hours.”