Smashing the Two-Hour Marathon Barrier: Kipchoge Takes Us Closer

Image Credit: Cait Opperman for Wired

Image Credit: Cait Opperman for Wired

It took countless hours of work, millions of dollars of investment, and tireless research, but as of last week, the running world has inched closer to that elusive goal - a two-hour marathon. 32-year-old Eluid Kipchoge’s incredible achievement took place in a highly controlled, regulated environment facilitated by Nike in their quest to leverage innovative running technology (and access to the greatest talent in the world) in order to smash the two-hour barrier. Kipchoge was on pace for much of the race, but began to flag slightly in the final miles, and due to pace-setting regulations his final time of 2:00:25 won’t technically count as the official new world record. The current official record will remain in the hands of Dennis Kimetto, who clocked in at 2:02:57 at the 2014 Berlin Marathon. Yet Kipchoge’s remarkable feat has put a two-hour marathon, a goal once believed to be beyond the scope of human capability, within reach.

Two hours is less than half the average marathon time (American runners clocked in at an average of 4:20 hours last year, and that time can stretch up to 8 hours for walkers), and anywhere even close to that range is reserved for the most elite marathoners. But the lesson we mere mortals can take away from Kipchoge’s incredible achievement is that, when we identify and prioritize our greatest goals, allocating our resources accordingly, we can reach heights a greener version of ourselves would have considered impossible. We don’t need millions of dollars from Nike to spur us to the gym, either - we just need running shoes, thirty minutes, and perhaps a little musical motivation.

When we set ourselves up to lose, dreaming up a goal and then writing it off as beyond our reach, there’s no chance of achieving it. But when we set ourselves up to succeed, push ourselves, to go just a quarter-mile farther or a half-minute faster than we did yesterday, we’ve already won. So this week, go ahead and prove your old self wrong.

Cecilia Winter