Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge yesterday 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 1 hour, 59 minutes, 40.2 seconds, the Olympic champion became the first to run a marathon in under two hours at 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 2:01:39, which he set in the flat Berlin marathon on Sept. 16 last year.
Accompanied by a posse of 41 pacemakers and a car in front of them setting the pace, Kipchoge bested that mark yesterday, 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,” Kipchoge said. “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 regular pace at about 2 minutes, 50 seconds per kilometer, he crossed 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, cheered him on.
Kipchoge told reporters earlier this week that his attempt in the Austrian capital was about “making history in this world, like the first man to go to the moon.”
“I just have to make that click in people’s minds that no human is limited,” he had said.
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 42.195km race. They included 1,500m Olympic champion Matthew Centrowitz and former world champion Bernard Lagat.
The course included a 4.3km straight alley, which the Kenyan ran up and down several times amid dry, but foggy weather.
Organizers only allowed their own cameras to film the run itself. Throngs of fans cheered on Kipchoge whenever he passed by.
“It’s history in the making. I’m very proud... It will be a motivation to a lot of young people. People are looking up to him,” said Nichasius Koech, 37, a software engineer from Kenya who works in Germany, ahead of the run.
Another fan, Joe Saissi, 25, from London said it was “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
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