Kipchoge Starts a New Chapter for Runners

Hudson Yu ‘22

October 12th 2019, 34 year old, Kenyan Marathon runner Eluid Kipchoge ran the first sub 2 hour marathon in front of a crowd of thousands in Vienna, Austria. He delivered the time of 1:59:40, holding a 4:34 average mile pace for all 26.2 miles.


This phenomenon happened during the INEOS 1:59 Challenge, which was a 2019 project with the goal of having a human break two hours in the marathon. The project was funded by the multinational chemicals company INEOS. 


The course that was selected for the INEOS 1:59 Challenge was Prater Park in Vienna. It was chosen from a worldwide search, that looked for the ideal environmental factors for Kipchoge to run. Factors such as humidity, wind speed and elevation were all taken into consideration, because without ideal factors, the difficulty of breaking two hours would be much higher.


Throughout the Marathon, Kipchoge was aided by three dozen pace setters, including  his competitors, former world champions and other Olympic medalists. Although he did set the world record for the Marathon, it would be deemed unofficial. According to IAAF regulations,  his being aided by rotating pace setters as well as a car that emitted a green laser to keep him on pace was prohibited.


After breaking the two hours barrier, Kipchoge received many congratulations, including one from Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, who addressed Kipchoge in a tweet: “You’ve done it, you’ve made history and made Kenya proud while at it.” But what he has done not only made Kenya proud, but made people all over the world proud. 


Kipchoge also addressed that the goal of breaking two hours was not only for himself, but also to inspire others:“It has taken 65 years for a human to make history in sport after Roger Bannister made history in 1954,” Kipchoge said at the finish line. “I’m expecting more of the athletes in all of the world to run under two hours after today.” The breaking of deemed “impossible” milestone in the marathon will go down in history as monumental. Kipchoge will join legendary runner Roger Bannister, who made history in 1954 for breaking 4 in the mile – an achievement like Kichoge’s also deemed unattainable.


Even though the time he ran will not go down in IAAF record books, by breaking the two hour barrier, he inspired all runners to push their limits to make the impossible possible. Kipchoge has opened a new chapter in distance running- proving that everyone is capable of tremendous times, and just like him, if people put in hard work and perseverance, brilliant results will also ensue.