On October 12, the record for the first person to ever run a marathon in under two hours was achieved. Incredibly, Kenyan marathon runner Eliud Kipchoge ran 42.2 kilometers (26.2 miles) in Vienna in 1 hour, 59 minutes, and 40 seconds.
However, it won't be featured as a new world record. The reason behind this decision is because Kipchoge had assistive advantages that regular marathon runners don't have access to.
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Who is Eliud Kipchoge?
Thirty-four-year-old Kipchoge has spent the last eight years trying to become the fastest marathon runner on earth.
— Eliud Kipchoge (@EliudKipchoge) October 15, 2019
He's come painfully close to this goal in the past few years. In 2017, Kipchoge ran a marathon in Italy in 2:00:25, and last year in Berlin, he finished the run in 2:01:39.
But this year, at the INEOS 1.59 Challenge marathon in Vienna, he achieved his life-long dream. In Vienna, his average mile pace was under four minutes and 34 seconds.
His run did not come unassisted, however. The Vienna marathon was specifically curated for Kipchoge's sub-two-hour attempt.
For this reason, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has decided not to honor his feat as a world record.
Not an official world record
The IAAF has strict rules and regulations in place to make world records fair. As Kipchoge had specific assistance that most marathon runners can only dream of, his run will not count as a world record on the books.
Kipchoge was able to keep an incredibly consistent pace throughout the many kilometers thanks to an array of pace setters. Set in a 'V' formation for optimal assistance, the Kenyan had five runners in front of him at all times, and two behind.
"The pace-makers did a great job, they are among the best runners of all time," Kipchoge said. "I thank them and appreciate them for accepting to do the job."
But because the team of runners rotated throughout the course, and the IAAF forbids pace setters to join midway through a race, this point alone wouldn't be permissible for Kipchoge to create a world record.
Additionally, Kipchoge was assisted by an electric car driving ahead of them, informing the team of their time, pace, and that also had a laser beam showing them which sections of the road were the most optimal to run on.
Furthermore, the course was selected due to the fact that it is extremely flat. Vienna is at sea-level, so there are no issues with breathing, and the start time and day of the marathon were changeable to offer the best conditions.
— INEOS 1:59 Challenge (@INEOS159) October 12, 2019
And lastly, Kipchoge wore a pair of never-seen-before Nike Vaporfly shoes. These are meant to improve running performance by four percent if used properly.
With all said and done, what Kipchoge managed is by no means an easy feat. In his own words, Kipchoge said, "making history in this world, like the first man to go to the moon."
Kipchoge wanted to prove how far the human body can push itself, and he certainly managed to do so.