Try this if you dare: time yourself running a lap of a 400 metre track. Do you think you could run it in 68 seconds? And could you keep this pace for 42 kilometres?
This is the speed required to break one of sport’s greatest remaining challenges: running sub 2 hours for the marathon.
To put it in perspective, Sir Roger Bannister broke 4 minutes (3:59.04) for one mile back on 6th May 1954. Back then they said it could not be physically done. Now the record is 3minutes 43 seconds.
Yet recently a runner almost ran 4 minutes 38 second per mile for 42kms!
It is unbelievable to consider that a sub 2hr marathon was almost broken by Kenyan athlete Eliud Kipchoge running 2 hours and 25 seconds. He had kept the sub 2 hour pace up till 35km before fading over the final few kilometres.
It is one of sport’s most amazing stories. And it reflects the changing face of sport. Kipchoge commented post run,
“Today, I learned that the impossible is possible. The next generation should know that nothing is impossible in this world. You can cope within your limits. Secondly, real focus, determination and real hope can take you somewhere.
“For the last 7 months I have been personally really focusing, training hard and preparing for this moment. Lastly self-discipline proves that it can bear fruit.”
The record for the marathon has dropped slowly over the past 10 years down to 2hr 2min 57sec. The attempt at sub 2 hr was a carefully planned event by major sponsor Nike. Every aspect of the athlete’s performance was planned from new equipment designs to pacing from world class runners to a hand selected course.
Instead of being regarded as a failure this attempt has inspired people to believe it can be done. Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman once said, “The real purpose of running isn’t to win a race, it’s to test the limits of the human heart.”
Stay tuned to see one of the greatest barriers in sport broken soon.
Jeremy Dover is a former sports scientist and Pastor
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