Kenyan great Eliud Kipchoge has created history by becoming the first athlete to run a marathon in under two hours at a stage-managed event in Vienna.
- Eliud Kipchoge ran a time of one hour, 59 minutes and 40 seconds to dip under the revered two-hour barrier
- Kipchoge’s time will not be recognised as an official world record by the governing body of athletics, the IAAF
- The Kenyan had previously made an attempt at running under two hours in Monza in 2017
Kipchoge stopped the clock in a time of one hour, 59 minutes and 40 seconds in cool but windless conditions, however it will not be officially recognised as a world record, as the race was not an open competition and it used in and out pacemakers.
The 34-year-old Kipchoge, the reigning Olympic champion, holds the official world record of 2:01.39, which he ran at the Berlin Marathon in September last year.
Kipchoge said he was elated to become the first athlete under two hours in a marathon, comparing the feat to Roger Bannister breaking four minutes for the mile.
“I am feeling good. After Roger Bannister in 1954 it took another 63 years,” he said.
“I tried and I did not get it. 65 years, I am the first man.
“I want to inspire many people, that no human is limited.”
Kipchoge’s bid to run a sub-two hour marathon, which was funded by a petrochemicals company, was contested across 4.4 laps of a 9.6-kilometre course around Vienna’s Prater park, consisting of a long straight with a loop at each end.
He reached the halfway mark in 59 minutes and 35 seconds, 11 seconds inside the target, and ran remarkably consistently with his one-kilometre times fluctuating between 2.48 and 2.52 seconds.
Kipchoge runs among the pacemakers during the first half of the marathon in Vienna. (Reuters: Leonhard Foeger)
Kipchoge was supported by 41 pacemakers — including Australians Stewart McSweyn, Jack Rayner, Brett Robinson and Patrick Tiernan — who ran in rotating groups.
The pacemakers formed a V shape around Kipchoge to try and protect him from the wind.
They also followed an electric pace car with a laser beam, which projected the ideal position on the road and was programmed to complete the course in 1:59.50 to ensure that Kipchoge ran a steady pace.
For the last kilometre, the pacemakers and car peeled away and Kipchoge pointed to the crowd and smiled as he completed the run.
“The 41 pacemakers are among the best athletes ever in the world,” Kipchoge said.
“I can say thank you to them, I appreciate them for accepting and together we made history on this one.”
Kipchoge, a four-time winner of the London Marathon, missed out by 26 seconds when he previously attempted to break the two-hour barrier in Monza in May 2017, a race run without spectators.
He said he wanted to inspire people through his efforts in Vienna.
“We can make this world a beautiful world and a peaceful world,” Kipchoge said.
“My wife and three children, I am happy for them to come and witness history. The positivity of sport, I want to make it a clean sport and an interesting sport.”
Kipchoge’s coach Patrick Sang said he was proud of his star pupil’s achievements.
“I am happy for him and what he has achieved,” he said.
“He has inspired all of us that we can stretch out limits and that we can do more than we think we can do.”
Kipchoge won gold in the 5,000 metres on the track at the 2003 world championships in Paris, as well as Olympic bronze (2004) and silver (2008) in the same event.
He switched to the marathon after missing out on qualification for the Kenyan squad on the track for the 2012 London Olympics.