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Why the First Sub-Two Hour Marathon in Human History Isn’t a “World Record”

I saw it all over my Newsfeed this weekend.

I’m taking nothing away from what he did. This is an amazing feat that should be celebrated, but it’s not a World Record. And it shouldn’t be. The reason is that his run was carefully and meticulously designed for him break that 2-hour barrier.

For instance:

  • It wasn’t a normal race – there were no other people running at the same time, thus it wasn’t ratified by the IAAF.
  • Kipchoge was supported throughout his run by 36 pacemakers who accompanied him in alternating groups, with five athletes running ahead of him in a V-shape and two others closely following.
  • a timing car just in front of the pack also helped keep the scheduled pace, and was equipped with a laser beam, projecting the ideal position on the road, parts of which also had painted stripes to indicate the optimum running line.
  • Kipchoge received drinks handed over by a cyclist to prevent him from having to slow down.
  • There was a nine-day window of flexibility to assure the perfect weather conditions.
  • The course in Vienna, Austria was specifically chosen for it’s numerous long straightaways and protection from the wind.
  • He even had specially-designed shoes from Nike. Like…really special. Read about it here if it interests you.

Here’s the funny part. Kipchoge is already the best marathoner in the world! He is undefeated in his last 10 marathons (including gold in Rio in 2016), and he’s the reigning marathon World Record holder at 2:01:39. That’s right, a team of hundreds designed his run and Nike created his special shoes to shave TWO MINUTES from his time. Worth it!

All of that doesn’t mean that his sub-2 hour time shouldn’t be celebrated! It was never MEANT to set a World Record. It was an effort to see how a team can accomplish a goal that’s never been met. I see this on the same level as a group of mechanics souping up a car to see how fast it can go!

Meanwhile in Chicago —

A LEGIT World Record was set, and she did it in just 15 mins slower than her male counterpart with every advantage humanly possible. Now THAT’S impressive!

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