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Is Kipchoge Well On the Way to Breaking the Elusive Sub-2-hour Marathon Barrier?

Eliud Kipchoge, the greatest men’s marathoner of all time, his life’s work has come down to a cruel clutch of seconds. After surpassing his own world record in Berlin on Sunday, 69 seconds is all that separates him from breaking the historic “sub-2” barrier – that is, completing a full marathon (42.195 kilometres) in under two hours. Kipchoge’s new world record of 2h, 1m and 9s was an astonishing achievement, even by his own lofty standards. It was 30s faster than his previous record (also set in Berlin, in 2018) and the second-largest lowering of the world record since 2003 (Kipchoge himself has the largest margin). Back in October, 2019, Kipchoge took part in a commercial enterprise set up entirely to see him make history. Running 4.4 laps around Vienna’s Prater Hauptallee, behind a phalanx of elite distance runners set out in exquisite formation, Kipchoge kept up an alarming pace of 2m and 52s per kilometre for 42.195km. The clock stopped to euphoric crowds and a seemingly transcendental Kipchoge; he’d smashed the sub-2 barrier with a time of 1h 59m and 40s. But as Kipchoge himself knew, an asterisk forever sits next to this time.