Eliud Kipchoge has "no doubts" he will break two hours for the marathon in Vienna

Kipchoge likens his potential achievement to man walking on the moon, and is determined to make history before defending his Olympic title

By Evelyn Watta and Rory Jiwani

Eliud Kipchoge is convinced he will run the first sub-two hour marathon in Vienna in October.

The Olympic champion and world record holder ran an unofficial 2:00.25 at Italy's Monza race track in May 2017 in his first attempt to break the magic barrier.

But speaking to journalists on a conference call from his home in Kaptagat, Kipchoge said, "I have no doubts at all. Absolutely clear on the goal."

If he is successful, he believes it will be in the same bracket as the first lunar landing 50 years ago and the ascent of Mount Everest in terms of human achievement.

"This is like the first man to go to the moon, so I'll be the first man to run under two hours. So it's critically crucial."

"It will be like going to the moon, stepping on the highest mountain or going to the middle of the ocean. This is another historic moment in sport."

Eliud Kipchoge poses for photos ahead of the 2018 Berlin Marathon

And Kipchoge thinks achieving his goal will enable others to follow in his footsteps.

The 34-year-old added, "I think after doing it, then many people will have courage. Many athletes will believe in themselves that this is possible.

"That's why I am always saying no human is limited. So they will know that there is no limits, and I trust that many more athletes will run under two hours."

Kipchoge, who plans to defend his Olympic title at Tokyo 2020, said he decided on this second attempt after coming so close at the Breaking 2 in Monza.

He said, "It’s the right time for me try and run under two hours. But above all, I decided I should try and make history before the Olympics."

The Vienna mission

Kipchoge announced in June that he would switch his bid for history from London to the Austrian capital.

He will run in the Prater public park, situated next to the River Danube, taking in at least four laps of the Hauptallee, the avenue running through it.

The Kenyan's management team cited "consistent and optimum weather conditions in October, fresh air, wide, traffic-free and illuminated roads and the ability to have supporters lining the route" among their reasons for choosing Vienna.

The attempt is due to take place on 12th October but there will be a reserve window of eight days to allow for the best possible weather.

He smashed Denis Kimetto's previous world record for the marathon by over a minute last September, clocking 2:01.39 to claim his third Berlin Marathon title.

On Tuesday (13th August), Norway's Ingebrigtsen brothers said they would be among the pacemakers for Kipchoge in Vienna.

Team Ingebrigtsen (L-R): Henrik, Jakob, Filip

Olympians Henrik and Filip and double 2018 European champion Jakob are all set to compete at the World Championships in Doha just days before the attempt.

Filip told NRK, "This won't be a competition for us - we shall just be assistants. A lot of things have to work in order to beat the record and you have to be on a good day.

"He went close last time and he has since improved on his personal best so if he is in the same form as Berlin, I'm expecting a record."

Highlights from the Eliud Kipchoge conference call on 14th August 2019

Q: You came very close at the first attempt in Monza. What has changed in your training this time around to make the necessary improvements to run 'sub-two'?

Eliud Kipchoge: Nothing much has changed. The training is the same. We are doing all sorts of training, strength and speed. But what has changed totally is mental preparations. And now we have a free mind, and I am ready to go and run under two hours. Above all, I am enjoying the big experience from Monza that’s what has changed.

Q: How do you mentally prepare to run the fastest you've ever run without knowing exactly - because of the window of opportunity - when you're going to do it?

EK: I am really prepared mentally. Because the other time when I ran in Monza, I was like a boxer going to the ring without even knowing what will happen.

"But this time I’m really prepared, and I know what will happen. I will break the two-hour barrier."

Eliud Kipchoge after just failing to break two hours at Monza in May 2017

Q: What effect do you think the fans will have on your attempt in Vienna?

EK: The fans will have a big impact; they will actually push me to the mark and watch me making history.

Q: What would be the perfect conditions for you for the Challenge in Vienna?

EK: 11- 12 degrees would be perfect for me.

Q: What do you think is the limit or how fast do you think you could go in Vienna? Are you aiming for a sub-two or 1:59.30?

EK: I don’t believe in limits. But my goal in Vienna is to break the two-hour barrier. Run something 1:59.50 or 1:59.55, provided I have broken the two-hour mark.

Q: You have perfected so many aspects of your training and your racing. Is there one single challenge that would prevent you from achieving this 1:59 goal what do you think it would be?

EK: What can prevent me is myself or my thoughts. Otherwise my mind is fully on 1:59.

Eliud Kipchoge poses with a clock reading 1:59:00 in Oxford in May 2019

Q: Where does this 1:59 Challenge compare to breaking the world record in Berlin or running the Olympic marathon, any other marathon?

EK: This is more important. It’s about making history and leaving a mark in sport. It’s like the first man to go to the moon, so I’ll be the first man to run under two hours. So, its critically crucial. It is on the same level as going to the moon, stepping on the highest mountain, or going in the middle of the ocean. This is another historic moment in sport.

"This is about history; it is about leaving a legacy. I want to make history and leave a legacy."

It is making a world record and passing a message that no human is limited and they can go beyond their limitations at any time, anywhere in this world."

Q: How do you train your mind to focus on the goal?

EK: My training is simple, and what makes me comfortable is that I trust on my training, my coaches, I trust on all my team. And that’s what makes my mind really strong and ready for that challenge.

Q: If you break two hours, will this be like a farewell?

EK: It will not be like a farewell; I treat every race like a challenge. I was taught to concentrate on one race at a time. So, for now I am really concentrating on 1:59 and after I will get on the next one.

Q: Have you visualised the marathon in Vienna and what you think will happen on that day?

EK: I have visualised in my heart; I have put in my mind and what I think will happen is that I will break the two-hour barrier.

Q: What did you learn from your previous experience in Monza and what did you tell the organizers this time that should be different that could help you break the barrier?

EK: Monza was a big, big test for me. For now, I am enjoying my experience from Monza. The different thing is that fans will be lining up in Vienna, and Vienna has a flat and low course. I think that will deliver the right time. It is a straight course, and I can run in a comfortable pace and a comfortable time.

Eliud Kipchoge on the ground after his unsuccessful Breaking 2 attempt at Monza

Q: How would you rate your current physical shape?

EK: I can say I am at 75%. I am doing well, I am finishing all my trainings, I’m really happy to say I am about 75.

Q: How is your workload every week?

EK: I normally train like any other marathon; the difference is my mind that I am visualizing I'll run under two hours. I am covering between 200 and 220km per week.

Q: How early are you planning to go to go Vienna before the window opens?

EK: I am expecting to be in Vienna one week before the race. I love to run on the course and feel how the course is, jog in the morning on the course.

Q: How do manage to keep your focus on the goal ahead?

EK:I am a simple man. I stay calm and focus on what’s going on, focus on my training lead a simple life, that’s what I am doing.

I am in environment where there is no distraction, I always stick to my priority number one training and concentrate on the 1:59 Challenge.

Q: What is the role that the pacers will play on the day? It can seem like at an individual event I guess but I guess is a real team aspect to this as well?

EK: Marathon is no longer an individual event it’s a team event. That’s why for this two-hour barrier you have the pacemakers. The pacemakers will be playing key role in my two-hour quest.

Eliud Kipchoge behind pacemakers during Breaking 2 at Monza

Q: If you achieve this, do you someone else can do this again?

EK: Absolutely. I think after doing it, many people will have courage. Many athletes will believe in themselves and say that this thing is possible. That’s why I always so no human is limited. They will not have limits in their life and we shall have many athletes run under 2 hours.

Q: Would you see say 34 are you and you're at the peak of your career.

EK: I don't know but I try my best. I am at the right age to make history after 16 years’ experience. It’s the right time for me to try and run under two hours. But above all I should try and make history before the Olympics (Tokyo 2020) and this is the right time to make history.

Q: What are you reading right now?

EK: I like reading books. I am repeating it for the third time, Muhammad Ali’s book, he’s a boxer I admire. I have got some good teachings there, that you need to persist and keep trying.

You know, Muhammad Ali was going to the ring whether he will be knocked out, or whether he will knock somebody out. It’s like me the last time in Monza, I was like a boxer. But this time I have great experience from Monza, I can go to the ring, the 1:59 Challenge, and I will make sure that I will achieve.

Muhammad Ali profile

Q: Do you get nervous before the big days?

EK: I just try to calm myself down. I don’t have rituals; I just keep myself that helps with the nervousness.

Q: Do you have any doubts ahead of the Challenge?

EK: I have no doubts at all! Absolutely clear on the goal.

To learn more about Eliud Kipchoge’s attempt to redefine the limits of human achievement, the INEOS 1:59 Challenge, visit www.ineos159challenge.com


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