London - Kenya's
Olympic and two-time London marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge will skip
the world championships this year in a bid to break the mythical
two-hour barrier for the long-distance event.
The 32-year-old Kenyan is one of three top runners selected by
American sportswear giant Nike to make the marathon record attempt later
this year. Kipchoge believes this may happen as early as May, offering
no further details on where or how the race would be held.
"I am proud to be part and parcel of this Nike Breaking2 project ... I
am going to break the two-hour mark in May," Kipchoge told AFP in
Eldoret, the high-altitude city in western Kenya used as a training
centre for many long-distance runners.
"Many people have expressed doubts whether it would be logical to
achieve this sooner than later, but I believe that it is all possible if
we train hard and put all our focus on it."
In 1908, Irishman Johnny Hayes won the first marathon set at the
modern distance of 42.195km (26.219 miles) in a time of
In the 109 years since, the record has crumbled to 2:02:57, run by Kenyan Denis Kimetto in 2014.
Kipchoge, a former world 5 000m champion, ran the world's third
fastest marathon time of 2:03.05 when he successfully defended his
London marathon title last April.
But the two-hour barrier has never been broken and has become the next big challenge for the event's elite racers.
Respected track and field
magazine Runners World has predicted that, based on data analysis, the
barrier would only be broken in 2075, and called Nike's bid "audacious".
Nike is taking everything that is known about nutrition, training and
biomechanics, and some of the world's best runners - all from East
Africa - in order to break the record.
However the brand has only been able to choose runners it sponsors,
thus excluding current world record holder Kimetto who is sponsored by
Kipchoge says he plans to forgo an attempt for a third successive
London marathon title in April, as well as the IAAF world championships
in the British capital in August, in order to concentrate on the sub-two
The two other Nike-sponsored runners earmarked in the attempt are
Ethiopia's former Boston marathon winner Lelisa Desisa and veteran
Eritrean distance runner Zersenay Tadese.
Their goal is to run 1:59.59 or faster, meaning a startling pace of 4:34 per mile.
"Based on what is presently known, whoever breaks the 2 hour barrier
will have a favourable genetic profile (yet to be determined), an
outstanding running economy and small body size along with chronic
exposure to high altitude and significant physical activity early in
life," Nike wrote on its website dedicated to the challenge.
"Current trends also suggest that an East African will be the first to break the 2 hour barrier."