Three runners Lelisa Desisa, Zersenay Tadese and Eliud Kipchoge are all set out to do a mission impossible – attempt to run the first sub-two hour marathon in history this weekend. It is an attempt by Nike in its ambitious project named Breaking2.
According to Fox Sports news report, The mark — almost three minutes lower than the current world record — is one many experts believe is still decades away from being broken under competition. It took 16 years for the marathon record to drop about three minutes from 2:06:05 to 2:02:57, the current world record that was set in 2014.
However in the Nike’s Breaking2 project, runners will be bestowed with a host of advantages including revolutionary shoes, interchangeable pacemakers and the ideal course and conditions, to fulfill the glory. The move by Nike has apparently not gone down well with the traditionalists of the sport though.
Australian marathon legend Steve Moneghetti says, either way, it’s an intriguing experiment that — successful or not — will accelerate the natural evolution of running.
“It’s not something I thought I’d see anytime soon but if they did it, it would be amazing,” Moneghetti, 54, told foxsports.com.au.
To break two hours, a runner would need to better the fastest marathon ever clocked — two hours, two minutes and 57 seconds by Kenyan Dennis Kimetto in 2014 — by about three per cent. Moneghetti, who set a PB of 2:08.16 in Berlin in 1990, says it’s a staggering ask.
“I’m not sure the public realise how hard it is. From my perspective it would be an unbelievable effort and you’d need everything in your favour,” the former Commonwealth Games champion and world championships bronze medallist said.
“The biggest monster of all is the marathon,” says Bernard Lagat, a five-time Olympic gold medalist and one of the pacers who will be running to keep Kipchoge, Tadese and Desisa on track for a sub-two-hour marathon. The sheer length of the race makes it that much more exciting to watch. “It’s not often that you get such a good barrier to go after,” says Rupp. Many runners agree that the last time a running record of this significance was broken was 63 years ago when Roger Bannister ran the mile in less than four minutes.
Nike’s aim to create the best possible conditions for runners to achieve the mark will see the runners do roughly 17.5 laps of the 2.4-kilometer circuit at the Monza F1 circuit in northern Italy.
The track was selected due to a combination of factors, including the surface, average temperature, air pressure and wind levels.
The attempt could take place any time within a three-day window of May 6-8, depending on conditions.
The epic attempt will be live streamed , The stream will also be available on Nike’s Facebook page . The coverage will include commentary from marathon world record-holder Paula Radcliffe and veteran broadcaster Craig Masback, a former elite miler and former CEO of USA Track & Field who now works for Nike.
The course is ratified by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) — and the athletes will satisfy all the usual anti-doping requirements — but the attempt will not be an officially sanctioned world record due to a host of other factors.
Nike’s 200 gramme Zoom Vaporfly Elite shoes are central to the whole project. The manufacturer says the combination of a new foam and curved carbon insert, which also helps change the angle of the foot, means runners require four per cent less energy to go at the same speed in comparison with their previous best shoe.
The shoes have been further custom-fitted for the three athletes.
A recent meeting of the IAAF technical committee ruled the shoes and their technology to be within their, admittedly vague, rules — though the Elite version will not be available for the public to buy.
But perhaps the most controversial aspect of the attempt is the fact the runners will be sheltered throughout the attempt by a group of pacemakers, who will dip in and out at various times to ensure they maintain the demanded pace. Thus making this epic race come under scrutiny and receive flak.