Runner falls 25 secs short in sub two-hour marathon bid

Runner falls 25 secs short in sub two-hour marathon bid

AFP | Reigning Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge from Kenya narrowly failed in his attempt to complete the distance under the mythical two-hour mark on Saturday, finishing in a time of 2hr 00min 24sec.

Because the current world record holder is Kenya's Dennis Kimetto who ran the marathon in two hours, two minutes and 57 seconds - which is pretty damn fast.

Kipchoge clocked two hours 25 seconds to beat two-time Boston Marathon victor Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia and half-marathon world-record holder Zersenay Tadese from Eritrea in the race. A pacer entering a race after the start is against IAAF rules and would mean the result would not count as a world record. The company designed what it believes is the most ideal apparel, footwear, and conditions for that time to be achieved and approached the event with confidence that a runner would achieve the feat.

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Critics call it a publicity stunt, a vehicle for Nike to sell running shoes. Jos Hermens, an agent representing Mr. Kipchoge, said in an interview last week that anything slower than the current world record "would be a failure". Kipchoge was aided by a crew of two dozen pace runners who slotted in and out of the game like National Basketball Association subs and starters. "I've been a part of many races over my career at Nike", said chairman and CEO Mark Parker in a statement. Exercise scientists and physiologists were skeptical, but Kipchoge and his team of pacers came up just short of the mythical two-hour time on Friday night. Instead, runners completed 17.5 laps around the 2.4km Monza Formula One track.

Kipchoge would have needed an average time of less than 4:35 per mile - an improvement of about seven seconds per mile on Kimetto's record, or around 2.5%. It will take more than that to set the new world record. "People will run faster and faster, similar to when Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile". Now it was all down to the next two hours.

Nike's astute stage-managing of the #Breaking2 project on social media, and the subsequent widespread attention it has received from the world's press and broadcasters, bears more than a passing resemblance to the Red Bull Stratos jump from the edge of space in October 2012, which hitherto had been considered the high watermark of content marketing productions.

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Kipchoge and the only other competitors, Eritrean Zersenay Tadese and Ethiopian Lelisa Desisa, ran behind an arrow-head formation of pacemakers, to reduce drag, and a vehicle beaming a green line on the road behind it to show the required speed for the sub-two hour target.

"I think pushing the boundaries of human performance is just fascinating for all of us, there's no question about that", he said.

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