Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge on Saturday made history, busting the mythical two-hour barrier for the marathon on a specially prepared course in a huge Vienna park. With an unofficial time of 1hr 59min 40.2sec, the Olympic champion became the first ever to run a marathon in under two hours in the Prater park with the course readied to make it as even as possible.
The 34-year-old already holds the men’s world record for the distance with a time of 2hr 01min 39sec, which he set in the flat Berlin marathon on September 16, 2018. But accompanied by a posse of 41 pacemakers and a car in front of them setting the pace, Kipchoge bested that mark, making good on a failed attempt two years ago in Monza, Italy.
“I am the first man – I want to inspire many people, that no human is limited,” said the history-making Kipchoge. “We can make this world a beautiful world and a peaceful world. My wife and three children, I am happy for them to come and witness history.”
Maintaining a very regular pace at around 2:50 minutes per kilometre, he passed the finish line gesturing and smiling. He had been 11 seconds in advance at mid-race as fans lining the course, many waving Kenyan flags, loudly cheered him on.
Because of the way the run was set up and paced the International Association of Athletics Federations will not validate the time as a world record. The running surface had been partly retarred and readied with other features such as a banked corner that could save time and avoid injury.
Pacemakers took turns to support him throughout the 42.195-kilometre (26.219-miles) race. They included 1,500-metre Olympic champion Matthew Centrowitz and former world champion Bernard Lagat.