Nike has unveiled an ambitious new project designed to achieve the “impossible” time of a sub two-hour marathon in 2017.
Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge will be among those taking on the challenge as part of the “Breaking2” project, alongside Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadese and Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia.
The clothing giants will work with a “diverse team of leaders across several fields of science and sport with a holistic approach to athletes, product, training, nutrition and environment.”
No exact time or location has yet been finalized for their attempt, but it is expected to take place at some-point in the spring on a “non-legal” course.
This means that Nike can introduce aspects not allowed in competition in a bid to produce a quicker time.
It is not yet clear exactly what this will consist off, but a looped, downhill course with unlimited refreshments and controlled pacemakers have been mooted.
It is possible that vehicles could act as pacemakers as well as a team of supporting runners.
A three per cent improvement on Dennis Kipruto Kimetto’s 2014 mark of 2hours 2min 57sec is required to break the two hour mark.
This would require a stunning average time of 4:41 for each mile
“Many consider this feat impossible,” said Nike today.
“However, that challenge is exactly what drives Nike; the impossible is an opportunity to envision the future of sport.
“To help achieve a sub two-hour marathon, Nike is working with a diverse team of leaders across several fields of science and sport with a holistic approach to athletes, product, training, nutrition and environment.
“Breaking2 provides an opportunity to explore whether the impossible is within reach.
“It is the ultimate embodiment of Nike’s mission: To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete on the planet.”
Kipchoge has been one of the world’s most successful distance runners over the last 13 years after winning the world 5,000 meter title as a teenager in 2003.
He won April’s London Marathon in a staggering time of 2:03:05 before his Olympic success.
Tadese, the first Eritrean Olympic medalist when winning the 10,000 meter bronze at Athens 2004, has won world titles on the road and in cross country as well as holding the current half marathon world record of 58:23.
Desisa is a two-time Boston Marathon winner who ran 2:04:45 on his marathon debut in Dubai in 2013.
None of these three runners are expected to run a sprint marathon on the World Marathon Majors circuit as they prepare for the Nike challenge.
The project has been dismissed as a gimmick by some, however, with critics claiming any result would be meaningless whenever race-rules are not applied.
“If you take Eliud Kipchoge, or [Ethiopian rival] Kenenisa Bekele, and they become only a little bit stronger than they are right now, and you take them to run a marathon that is 50 meters below sea level, and for a pacesetter you have a car or motorbike, or something like this, that is normally allowed in current competitions, and you also allow them refreshment, not every five kilometers like the rules state but whenever they need it, I think that such a time is already possible,” marathon coach Renato Canova told LetsRun.
“But, this situation is not athletics.
“I guess it depends on what is the final goal for the project.
“If the final goal is only running under 2:00, I suppose it’s possible in two to three years.
“But if the goal is to run under 2:00 in a normal marathon, then no, it’s not possible.”
By Nick Butler
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.