Surely now it’s not of case of ‘if’, but ‘when?’ Eliud Kipchoge’s incredible world record run of 2:01:39 in Berlin this month was a giant leap closer to one of sport’s seemingly impossible barriers - the sub two-hour marathon.
In lopping a chunky 1 minute and 18 seconds off the previous record, the Kenyan - who as Olympic champion and multiple marathon major winner has surely now cemented his place as the greatest ever - took us within 100 seconds of the iconic landmark.
Kipchoge had already covered the distance even faster, albeit in an unofficial environment for record purposes. In Nike’s Breaking2 project in Monza, Italy last May, he clocked 2:00:25 aided by a lead car and pacing athletes employed in and out of the race – illegal tactics that precluded any IAAF official ratification.
Nonetheless, the project made ‘sub-two’ much more of a realistic goal mentally as well as physically for athletes, coaches and the wider running community.
The sub-two debate gathered pace in 2003 when Kipchoge’s fellow countryman Paul Tergat ran under 2:05 to break the world record on the same Berlin course. At that point, the schools of thought were spilt on whether it was ever actually possible. Many held firm that sub two was an impossibility. Those voices have grown notably quieter over time.
Surely now it is inevitable?
The trajectory now is such that the sub two hour marathon could easily come in the next decade. Could it be Kipchoge himself?
At 33, probably not. But his trailblazing has paved the way. Kipchoge is a former World 5000m champion and he only stepped away from the track and onto the roads when he was no longer able to make the Kenyan Olympic team.
Having struck a rich vein from 2014 onwards, he was signed by Nike and given the best in sports science support to aid his evolvement.
With the magical barrier now in tantalisingly close proximity, an emerging athlete of similar talent and more immediate access to the latest in sports science will surely make the breakthrough? Berlin 2028 anyone?