Kenyan marathoner breaks 2-hour barrier

Free Press wire reports | 10/18/2019, 6 a.m.
Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge made athletics history on Saturday when he became the first person to run a 26.2-mile marathon in ...
Eliud Kipchoge, an Olympic champion and world record holder from Kenya, runs on his way to history last Saturday in Vienna to become the first athlete to run a marathon in less than two hours. His historic run, in 1 hour, 59 minutes and 40 seconds, will not count as a world record however. The INEOS 1:59 Challenge was set up for the attempt. Photo by Leicester/The INEOS 1:59 Challenge via AP

VIENNA Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge made athletics history on Saturday when he became the first person to run a 26.2-mile marathon in under two hours, stretch- ing the limits of human endeavor and passing a milestone few thought could be reached for decades if at all.

Guided by green laser beams shined onto the road and helped by 41 world class athletes choreographed into rotating teams of pacemakers, the Olympic champion and world record holder smashed the barrier by 20 seconds, finishing in 1 hour 59.40 minutes.

It was regarded as the biggest achievement in athletics since Briton Roger Bannister broke the 4-minute mile in 1954 and was likened by Kipchoge himself 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 said.

However, it was not recognized as a world record by the sport’s governing International Association of Athletics Federations, or IAAF, as it was not in open competition and used rotating pacemakers.

As the pace makers peeled away for the last kilometer, Kipchoge accelerated down the final straight, smiled and pointed at people in the crowd who gave him a rousing reception.

“I have been training for this for four and a half months,” the 34-year-old said before being mobbed by teammates. “I have been putting my heart and mind to run under two hours for a marathon and make history.

“I am feeling good. After Roger Bannister, it took another 65 years to make history,” he added. “Now I’ve gone under two hours to inspire other people and show the world nobody is limited.”

Although the IAAF did not recognize the run, its president, Sebastian Coe, had said he was in favor of such events and argued that it was not a huge issue if they were not recognized by the sport’s governing body.

There was unbridled joy in Kipchoge’s homeland as thousands of people celebrated on the streets. “We don’t even have the words to explain it, it is such a proud moment. We are super, super proud to be Kenyan,” said one reveler.

In Nairobi, traffic stopped with people gathering in bars and anywhere with television screens as national hero Kipchoge closed in on completing the stunning achievement.

Kipchoge is practically a neighbor to Virginia Union University’s Kenyan distance runners Micah Kipruto and Enos Rotich. He hails from Eldoret, Kenya, in the Rift Valley Province, the same province as the VUU runners.

Also like the VUU athletes, Kipchoge is part of the Kalenjin people.