On October 12, 2019, Eliud Kipchoge, an Olympic long-distance runner, broke one of the greatest barriers in human history. He completed a marathon in just under 2 hours, coming in at 01:59:40. To non-athletes and people who are not runners, it may be confusing as to why this is such a big deal. Kipchoge partnered with Nike a little over two years ago with the sole purpose of "Breaking 2", or breaking the two-hour mark in a marathon. Their journey involved heavy training and regulation of everything from eating to sleeping to workouts. In May 2017 Kipchoge made his first attempt to "Break 2" in Milan, Italy, along with two other professional runners. He finished with a time of 02:00:25. A mere 25 seconds stood between him and his goal. On September 24, 2017 he won the Berlin Marathon with a time of 2:03:32. Kipchoge continued his domination of the long-distance field by winning the London marathon two years in a row in 2018 and 2019. He also won the Berlin marathon in 2018. Every year brought fresh opportunity for Kipchoge to decrease his times and increase his performance, leading up to his most recent feat.
When I saw what Kipchoge had done, I was truly inspired. I have been a runner for many years; I ran cross country and track all throughout high school. I was on the varsity teams for both and so I was running for most of my four years. The only way to fully understand Kipchoge's sheer strength and determination is to be a runner because I am able to see his journey from a unique perspective. Running is truly a mental sport because it takes so much mental strength to be able to continue a race, even though you want to bend over and take a breath and you can feel the lactic acid build up in your legs. I have not had nearly as much training as Kipchoge, but I can still recognize how awe-inspiring his efforts are. To put things into perspective Kipchoge ran 26.1 miles at an average pace of 4:35 per mile; during cross country, my average mile time for 3.1 miles would be 7:30 and I was dead tired after only 3 miles. I cannot fathom running a straight 26.1 miles at such as fast pace; it truly blows my mind.
Kipchoge ran this groundbreaking time at Prater Park in Vienna, Austria, a relatively flat course chosen for its speed advantage. Although this time was an extraordinary achievement, it will not be counted as an official time because it was not run under the true conditions of a real marathon and the fact that Kipchoge also had pacers running with him every mile. I believe that one day soon Kipchoge will break two hours in a real marathon, and I await this day with excitement!