Early on Saturday morning (6th May), Nike made their bid to make history with a sub-2 hour marathon. Three runners, Eliud Kipchoge, Lelisa Desisa and Zersenay Tadese, started together on the Monza’s Formula One race course in Italy. Only Kipchoge came close in the end, crossing the line in 2:00:25.
That time takes 2:30 minutes off the previous record, held by Dennis Kimetto. This was an impressive 2:02:57, set in competition at the 2014 Berlin marathon. Technically though, Kipchoge’s incredible run won’t count as a world record because it was made using continuous pacemakers that dropped in and out throughout the attempt, as well as water bottles delivered on mopeds.
On top of these measures designed to save precious seconds, the runners were also using a new Nike shoe design called the Zoom Vaporfly Elite. The shoes were measured exactly for the athletes and feature a carbon fibre plate. Supposedly the shoes were 4% more efficient than previous shoes – and a version for the general market will be released shortly.
A world record. Sort of.
Kipchoge was very close to maintaining the required 4:35 min/mile per mile, and with a half way split of 59:54 everything seemed promising. At the end though, he ‘only’ managed to average 4:36 min/mile pace.
Still though, many people doubted that a sub-2 hour marathon could be done at all and some estimates suggested it would take another 50-75 years. This attempt, with its agonising miss, shows that perhaps the 2 hour barrier isn’t so far after all. Now, Adidas are making their own preparations (featuring their own shoes) to make a new attempt, so watch this space.
Despite coming so close, and spending millions of dollars on technology and marketing, Nike have admitted they have no plans for another attempt and would instead like to move onto another challenge “perhaps related to female athletes or average athletes” said Matt Nurse, vice-president of the Nike sport research lab.
So calling all average runners out there – keep your phone close as Nike may just come calling.