Eliud Kipchoge, Lelisa Desisa and Zersenay Tadese tasked with targeting the fabled mark as part of Nike’s Breaking2 team
The sub-two-hour marathon debate has been stoked once again. The possibility of 26.2 miles being run in less than 120 minutes divides opinion hugely. Nike has set out to prove that it can be done, and sooner than you might have thought.
The sportswear giant has unveiled ‘Breaking2‘, which it describes as “an innovation moonshot designed to unlock human potential”.
Cue a team of experts ranging across biomechanics, coaching, design, engineering, materials development, nutrition, sports psychology and physiology, plus three hugely accomplished athletes tasked with targeting the fabled mark.
Olympic champion and 2:03:05 marathoner Eliud Kipchoge, two-time Boston Marathon winner Lelisa Desisa and world half-marathon record-holder Zersenay Tadese will be the ones to attempt to break the barrier – when and where is yet to be revealed.
But it’s not the first project with such intentions. The Sub2hr Project was launched last year and its aims were outlined here.
The closest anyone has come to the two-hour marathon mark is 2:02:57, run by Dennis Kimetto in Berlin in 2014. Prior to Mo Farah making his marathon debut earlier that year, AW‘s editor Jason Henderson wrote a blog on the likelihood of a sub-two-hour marathon and who might achieve it.
“I am one of the optimists who is confident it will happen one day,” he wrote. “Farah, however, will not do it.
“In fact, it’s pretty safe to say the sub-two marathon runner of the future has not even been born yet.”
As Henderson noted, finishing a marathon inside two hours requires each mile to be run in 4:35 (or around 2:50 per kilometre). That means shaving around seven seconds from each mile split of the current world record.
“Attempting to break the sub two-hour marathon challenges the perception of what’s possible in sport, resets the expectations of product and enables Nike to garner incredible insight into the sport of running,” read a Nike news release. “These lessons can be applied across everything Nike does, from product to services, to ultimately serve all runners. The only real failure would be to not attempt such an audacious goal.
“To go faster than ever, environment is everything,” Nike added. “Every second is optimised by careful consideration of course and conditions.”