Why Eliud Kipchoge’s Remarkable 1:59 Marathon Won’t Be an Official World Record

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Eliud Kipchoge just became the first athlete to ever run a marathon in under two hours. The Kenyan Olympic champion just set a world-first time at the INEOS 1:59 challenge in Vienna, Austria, completing the 26.2 mile course in one hour, 59 minutes and 40 seconds.

“This shows no-one is limited,” the 34-year-old gold medallist said. “Now I’ve done it, I am expecting more people to do it after me… This shows the positivity of sport. I want to make it a clean and interesting sport. Together when we run, we can make it a beautiful world.”

However, Kipchoge’s achievement will not count as an official world record, as the INEOS 1:59 was not an open competition, but rather an event designed with the specific goal of breaking the two hour mark — which Kipchoge did by a whole 20 seconds.

He also completed the marathon with a team of 42 rotating pacemakers who ran with him, including former 5,000m world champion Bernard Lagat. They were accompanied by a car which projected the right position on the track using a laser. Once it became clear that Kipchoge was going to complete the race under time, the pacemakers fell back so he could reach the finish line alone and victorious.

The use of help such as pacemakers, as well as the coaches who delivered water to him throughout the run, mean Kipchoge is not eligible for an official world record according to IAAF guidelines. But Kipchoge had nothing but praise for his team following the race: “They are among the best athletes in the world – so thank you. I appreciate them for accepting this job. We did this one together.”

Kipchoge already holds the official marathon world record, having completed the 2018 Berlin marathon in 2:01:39. In 2016, he won the gold medal in the marathon at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

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