It will be one of those events that happen once in a lifetime; like Michael Jackson or Barack Obama
By Idris ‘Shoes’ Lule
When and if Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge runs the INEOS marathon challenge in under two hours, he will be the first person to do so since God said ‘Let there be light.’ Of the six billion people on earth, only Kipchoge can muster the challenge he will face in Vienna, Austria this coming Saturday.
After all, he is the marathon Olympic champion and the world record holder but said accomplishing it “will be like stepping onto the moon” when he spikes the course at Prater Park. To achieve that fete, the 2019 INEOS 1:59 Challenge, will be equivalent to Kipchoge-the greatest living marathoner of all time- running the breadth from Sari Centre in Westlands to Sabina Joy along Moi Avenue Nairobi in under five minutes!
“It’s about history, about leaving a legacy, I am going to make history and leave a legacy, it’s not about making a world record,” said Kipchoge “I am already a record holder for marathon – this is for the human family.”
His last Challenge to run in under two hours was the ‘Nike Breaking 2’ attempt in Italy in 2017. Kipchoge pulled a 2:00:25…only 25 seconds and shedding off a millisecond stood between him and sporting immortality.
Without controlled conditions, Kipchoge ran and won the Berlin marathon in 2:01:39 seconds. Again only less than two minutes stood between him and breaking the two hour barrier.
Paula Radcliff ran in 2:15:25 in 2003…a whole 16 years ago!
To understand the magnitude of what Kipchoge will be attempting, just
consider that it’s only a man, breathing, African, and from the highlands, is capable of pulling it off. In God’s whole wide wild world, it had to be from the highlands of Kenya’s Rift Valley. A place where people are born with blood high in haemoglobin, can contain more oxygen. Their lithe limbs are blessed with tampered narrow ankles, ideal for running. Over 42 kilometres of a marathon, Eliud Kipchoge was chiseled for it, more than anyone else on earth.
Just consider: The fastest woman marathoner in the world is England’s Paula Radcliff who ran in 2:15:25 in 2003…a whole 16 years ago. It has since been broken by Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei during the 2019 Chicago Marathon with a new time of 2:14:04.
It has taken more than 30 years for male marathoners to dip records to Kipchoge’s current one of 2:01:39 seconds since Ethiopia’s Belayneh Densamo managed 2:06:50 in Rotterdam, Netherlands in 1988.
The INEOS 1:59 Challenge will make sporting history, but won’t be included in course records as it will be under controlled conditions which dispense with marathon pacing and fluid rules.
Your grandchildren will be lucky to see a human being run the marathon in under two hours
But it will be one of those events that happen once in a lifetime; like Michael Jackson or Barack Obama. Your grandchildren will be lucky to see a human being run the 42.195 kilometres that make a standard marathon in under two hours.
In other words, Kipchoge has to run each kilometre in an average of 2: 83 seconds! That is utterly superhuman.
Marathons were popularized by the Olympic Games. The INEOS 1:59 Challenge will thus be a showcase of how far the discipline has come since Thomas Hicks
won the 1904 St Louis Olympic Games in the USA in 3:28: 53 seconds — the worst marathon time in Olympic history. Never mind he was found guilty of using performance-enhancing drugs!
Besides Hicks, the 1904 Games had another clown, Cuban postman Felix Carvajal who entered the marathon to honour his homeland, even though he wasn’t included in the national team, as Allen Guttmann notes in The Olympic: A History of the Modern Games in published in 2002.While Kipchoge has INEOS for sponsors, Carvajal had none and raised travel money through demonstration runs around Havana, Cuba’s capital, and begging onlookers for money, that he promptly gambled away on arrival in St. Louis.
The marathon was re-introduced in the Olympic Games to honour Pheidippides
He showed up at the starting line wearing a long-sleeve white shirt, heavy-heeled street shoes and long, dark pants.
Carvajal got hungry during the race, made a stopover in an apple orchard, got sick from eating rotten fruit, stopped to rest, got up to race in between kissing many female spectators, and still finished fourth.
The marathon was re-introduced in the Olympic Games to honour Pheidippides, who ran 242 kilometres from the city of Sparta through Marathon to Athens with news of the Greek victory over Persia in the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC.
“We have won,” he reported after panting for two days. Then collapsed and died. But at least Pheidippides completed “his race”.
Queen Alexandra is the reason why a marathon is 42.195 kilometres.
During the 1908 Games, the marathon standard was exactly 42 kilometres, but the Queen and other royalty needed a better view, so organizers added an extra 352 metres so that the finish line would be in front of the royal box. And it’s been that way ever since-and Eliud Kipchoge will be pushing the limits of human endurance in INEOS 1:59 Challenge.