It’s hard to put Eliud Kipchoge’s astonishing sub two-hour marathon from October 2019 into context. Like Roger Bannister breaking the four minute mile in 1954, the Kenyan achieved something that many people believed physically couldn’t be done.
Some will argue about the details, but the facts remain remarkable. Kipchoge ran 26.2 miles in the time of 1:59:40, on a special course in Vienna, Austria. It did not count as an official marathon world record, because standard competition rules for pacing and fluids were not followed, and it wasn’t an ‘open’ race. He was paced by a car and carefully co-ordinated team of elite runners throughout.
But the moment still transcended the rules: the sense of occasion and Kipchoge’s emotions afterwards ensured that the completion of the 1:59 challenge, which he had already attempted and failed once, will be seen as his crowning achievement for years to come.
Kipchoge realised the significance immediately afterwards. “After Roger Bannister in 1954, it took another 63 years, I tried and I did not get it,” he said about the breakthrough. “I want to inspire many people, that no human is limited.”
“Athletics is not so much about the legs; it's about the heart and the mind.”
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