Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge cemented himself as perhaps the greatest long-distance runner the world has ever seen after pulling off a superhuman feat in Vienna in 2019. At the INEOS 1:59 Challenge, Kipchoge became the first person ever to run a full marathon in under two hours.
The elusive time had evaded runners for years, and it was thought to be an impossible benchmark to beat, but through an extensive training regime and careful planning, the Kenyan runner was able to achieve the record. Over the course of 26.2 miles (42 km), he was averaging a speed of 13 mph (21 km). In other words, he ran the whole marathon at a speed that an average human can sprint.
Even though this is a tremendous feat in the history of running, it won’t be considered an official record in marathon running. The INEOS challenge was not an open competition; it was an event designed to showcase the speed of Kipchoge with the specific purpose of breaking the sub-2-hour marathon barrier.
Kipchoge was also assisted by 41 other professional runners who set the correct pace and protected him from the wind. Alongside the runners, an electric car guided the runners throughout the whole race projecting a laser in the road to indicate the ideal path and speed. For optimal performance, Kipchoge was assisted by coaches who delivered water to him at any given moment.
The official marathon world record still stands at 2:01:39, a time set by Kipchoge himself during the Berlin Marathon last year.
Still doing great – October 2022 update: Kipchoge shaved 30 seconds off his previous world record to finish the Berlin Marathon in 2:01:09! (NPR)