Eliud Kipchoge is the fastest human in marathon history. The distance runner from Kenya became the first person to break the two-hour marathon barrier, completing the 26.2 miles in 1 hour, 59 minutes, 40.2 seconds on Saturday morning in Vienna, Austria.
The record took place at the INEOS 1:59 Challenge, which is a race specifically designed for Kipchoge’s speed and pace. While the race will not be counted towards an official world record, it does not take away from the awe-inspiring feat and Kipchoge’s celebration.
“This shows no-one is limited,” Kipchoge told the BBC. “Now I’ve done it, I am expecting more people to do it after me.”
Kipchoge had some help accomplishing this feat, guided by laser beams on the road and assisted by 41 other world class athletes split up into choreographed teams of pacemakers, he was able to best the old record by 20 seconds, finishing just under the two-hour mark. The Olympic champion compared the feat to landing on the moon.
“Today we went to the moon and came back to earth! I am at a loss for words for all the support I have received from all over the world,” Kipchoge tweeted in celebration after the race. “I am at a loss for words for all the support I have received from all over the world. Thank you for all who gave me the opportunity. Asante.”
This feat is now being heralded as the biggest achievement in athletics since Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile in 1954.
“I am feeling good. After Roger Bannister it took another 65 years to make history,” Kipchoge told Reuters. “Now I’ve gone under two hours to inspire other people and show the world nobody is limited.”
Down the final stretch, the three-time Olympic gold medalist waved away his pacemakers and accelerated past the finish line. All smiles and barely sweating, the 34-year-old was greeted immediately by his wife, and thousands of screaming fans.
“I have been training for this for four and a half months, I have been putting my heart and mind to run under two hours for a marathon and make history,” he told Reuters.
The feat required a consistent 4:34 mile pace, which is an approximate speed of 13.1 miles per hour.
Kipchoge already holds the official world marathon record. He ran the Berlin Marathon in 2:01:39 last year and then again in 2:02:37 in April. Those are the two fastest official marathon times in history. This run will not count as an official world record by the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) because of the track conditions and assistance by the pacesetters.
This is not the first time Kipchoge and his team tried to accomplish this feat. In 2017, he unsuccessfully tried to break the two-hour barrier at a race in Monza, Italy. This time around, Kipchoge’s was able to overcome the great barrier. With thousands of people flooding the streets in his home town of Eldoret, Kenya to watch the accomplishment take place. The scene was captured in a tweet from ESPN India as Kipchoge crossed the finish line.