Eliud Kipchoge today became the first person ever to run a Marathon in less than two hours, with his effort at the Ineos 1:59 Challenge in Vienna – and among those who helped the Kenyan make history were Sir Dave Brailsford and other members of Team Ineos staff, who were instrumental i the planning.
Also present to cheer on the 34-year-old distance athlete on a specially built course at Vienna’s Prater Park as he completed the challenge in a time of of 1 hour 59 minutes 40 seconds was four-time Tour de France winner, Chris Froome, who was born in Nairobi and grew up in Kenya and South Africa, beginning his international racing career with his native country before switching his allegiance to Great Britain.
— Chris Froome (@chrisfroome) October 12, 2019
Ineos’s backing of the challenge is just one element of a sports portfolio held by Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s company that includes UCI WorldTour outfit Team Ineos, bought in May this year as Sky ended its sponsorship, and the British America’s Cup challenge led by Sir Ben Ainslie.
Brailsford said at the time of the change of ownership to see if the team could learn from other sporting ventures backed by Ineos, and vice-versa – and that came to fruition today with Team Ineos playing a key role in helping Kipchoge prepare for the challenge.
"Eliud is a once in a generation athlete and if anybody deserves to break the two-hour barrier it is him,” Brailsford said afterwards. “It was an incredible performance and a privilege to be here.
"This project kicked off earlier this year, we took a good look at it and broke it down. A lot of high performance principles can apply to all sports and we helped with a little background support to aid Eliud’s brilliant team around him of Valentijn [Trouw, Kipchoge’s manager] and Patrick [Sang, his coach].
“The great thing about Ineos’s role is we brought people together including from the Ineos sailing and cycling teams. Ineos put it all together for this single project and from an Ineos sport perspective it has been fantastic."
Kipchoge himself said: “This was the best moment of my life. From the first kilometre today I was really comfortable. In my heart and my mind I hoped to run under two hours and make history. I hoped to leave a positive message to the whole world that no human is limited.”
Breaking the two-hour barrier for a Marathon has long been seen as something that would stand comparison with the late Sir Roger Bannister’s historic run at Oxford’s Iffley Road in 1954 when he became the first man to run a mile in under four minutes.
Kipchoge’s time today doesn’t constitute a new world record, because it wasn’t set in open competition, but besides that it also differed from IAAF rules in several important respects – meaning the Kenyan’s 2 hours 1 minute 39 seconds at last year’s Berlin Marathon remains the official world record.
Today, the 34-year-old had a pace car which flashed a green laser line behind it to enable him to track his progress against his target, and he was supported by 42 pacemakers who ran in turns in small groups in a V-shaped formation to help shelter him from the wind and who included several world and Olympic champions.
He was also handed drinks and energy gels by members of his support team riding alongside, whereas in a competitive race he would have had to take them himself from a table at the roadside.
It could perhaps be viewed as the running equivalent of the UCI Hour Record, which has attracted renewed interest in recent years after the governing body changed the rules in 2014 to allow modern bikes and equipment.
The men’s record is currently held by Belgium’s Victor Campenaerts, who rode 55.089 kilometres at Aguascalientes in Mexico in April this year, while in September 2018, Italy’s Vittoria Bussi set the women’s record of 48.007 kilometres.
Now that Kipchoge has shown that the barrier can be broken, there is an argument that the IAAF should likewise change its rules to allow future attempts on a similar basis.
The numbers, certainly, are astonishing. The pace Kipchoge set over the 42.2 kilometres was equivalent to running 100 metres in 17.08 seconds – and doing that 422 times in succession.
Meanwhile, his average speed was 21.1 kilometres an hour, which a number of Twitter users pointed out was faster than they managed on their bike commutes – while Mark Cavendish described it as “the most impressive sporting achievement in history.”
For me, this is the most impressive sporting achievement in history. Absolutely moved to tears to be able to witness this in my lifetime. A sub-2hour marathon. To get perspective, go and try to run at 21kph for 300meters....
Incredible @EliudKipchoge & everyone behind @INEOS159 pic.twitter.com/fW9ZJVZNzg
— Mark Cavendish (@MarkCavendish) October 12, 2019
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.