The world’s first sub-2-hour marathon ever now belongs to Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge but will have an asterisk next to it.
The two-hour mark has stood as a goal for world-class marathon runners. For decades, it has stood as a tantalizing barrier that runners around have chipped away at — but never broken.
Until now. On Saturday, Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya broke the tape in Vienna, Austria, with an official time of 1:59:40:2, shattering the vaunted 2-hour mark.
Sub-2-Hour Marathon: Eliud Kipchoge
Almost no wind and temperatures that hovered around 48 degrees Fahrenheit meant the 34-year-old Kenyan ran in “perfect weather conditions,” according to event officials.
It wasn’t just the weather, Kipchoge ran on a course designed for speed with the specific intent to break the 2-hour barrier. Petrochemical company INEOS sponsored the attempt as part of an event dubbed the “INEOS 1:59 Challenge.” To aid in breaking the record, Kipchoge had 41 pace runners and an electric timing car that projected a mark on the road where he should be at all times. These added “aids” are what will keep an asterisk next to it in the record books.
“It is a great feeling to make history in sport after Sir Roger Bannister [set the first sub-four-minute mile] in 1954,” Kipchoge said after the race. “I am the happiest man in the world to be the first human to run under two hours and I can tell people that no human is limited. I expect more people all over the world to run under two hours after today.”
The course consisted of four laps around the Hauptallee, a “historic tree-line avenue” with natural windbreaks and long, flat, straight stretches of road.
“I wanted to run under two hours and show human beings can do a good job and lead a good life,” Kipchoge concluded. “I want to make the sport an interesting sport whereby all the human beings can run and together we can make this world a beautiful world.”