Sub 2 hour marathon run by Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya this morning
October 12, 2019 1:36 AM   Subscribe

Eliud Kipchoge makes history by running sub two-hour marathon Kipchoge achieved the feat with a team of 41 in-and-out pacemakers, seven at a time, whose positions were guided by lasers projected on the road from a support car in front. These assisted conditions, and the fact the run was not part of an open event, mean his achievement will not count as an official world record.
posted by Mrs Potato (31 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
 
Thats unreal. I never thought I'd see someone run a sub 2 hour marathon in my lifetime. Amazing acheivement.
posted by fshgrl at 1:43 AM on October 12 [4 favorites]


I found this surprisingly emotional to watch. I can remember as a high school cross country runner in the 90s looking at running world records and thinking I would never see this happen.

This fact is mind boggling:

Another way of considering a sub-two marathon is to compare it to equivalent times at other common distances. According to the Purdy tables, the most respected race-comparison tool, a 1:59:59 marathon is the equivalent of a 12:20 5K, 25:49 10K, and 57:12 half marathon. The current world records for those distances are 12:37, 26:17, and 58:23, respectively.

4:35 per mile pace.
posted by imabanana at 2:05 AM on October 12 [13 favorites]


fshgrl: "Thats unreal. I never thought I'd see someone run a sub 2 hour marathon in my lifetime. Amazing acheivement."

This. 4:35 a mile pacing is just wild. It is fascinating the way he built up to this and the fact that using the pacing runners and the tech was in the end successful. Humans!
posted by chavenet at 2:20 AM on October 12 [2 favorites]


Why does he have 5 pacers in front, and 2 behind him?
Is that to reduce wind resistance??
posted by Thisandthat at 2:55 AM on October 12


My partner called me over to watch the last 10 minutes. I’m not an athlete, but my partner is, and it was surprisingly emotional for both of us to watch Eliud push that boundary and finish so strong. Truly incredible.
posted by third word on a random page at 2:56 AM on October 12 [2 favorites]


Man that was amazing. He was running just about exactly 2:50/km splits the entire time so I checked my Strava and saw my fastest km was 3:22. I decided to go out this evening and put 100% into one kilometer and see if I could run one in 2:50 for comparison. I ran 3:16 and it hurt. I have no idea how any of this is possible.

But yeah, what an exciting 2 hours of television.
posted by Literaryhero at 3:31 AM on October 12 [9 favorites]


Also I hope I don't jinx it but Kipchoge seems like the nicest guy in the world.
posted by Literaryhero at 3:43 AM on October 12


I stayed up like an hour late last night and look more hacked out than he did at the finish line.
posted by Etrigan at 4:36 AM on October 12 [20 favorites]


Yes, the formation of the seven runners is to minimise wind resistance:
In brief, the idea is that the front V shape of five runners will create a wash of air that will flow around Kipchoge, and therefore reduce the drag on him. Two runners behind Kipchoge will provide what Ketchell calls “static pressure,” to push Kipchoge along; they will also help create the “optimal flow” around him. [...] The formation relies on precision. If Kipchoge moves twelve centimetres to his right or left, he will be much less protected. The choreography is everything. Ketchell estimates that this formation, if everyone did their jobs perfectly, would save Kipchoge a minute and fifty-two seconds, compared with Kipchoge running alone.
posted by penguinliz at 6:26 AM on October 12 [18 favorites]


Yeah, Literaryhero, I was looking at the time and figuring that I could run 100 meters at his marathon pace, but that 200m would be a toss up. Unreal.
posted by mercredi at 6:34 AM on October 12 [4 favorites]


It would be cool to have a team marathon category, since so much depends on choreography, etc. much like cycling.
posted by drowsy at 7:24 AM on October 12 [4 favorites]


It would be cool to have a team marathon category, since so much depends on choreography, etc. much like cycling

I just spent the last ten minutes searching and couldn't find it, but I swear there is a race in San Francisco that has the runners tied together. Or at least a prize in the race for runners who are tied together.
posted by Literaryhero at 7:49 AM on October 12 [1 favorite]


Years ago when I was a casual runner I had a go at maintaining Paula Radcliffe's marathon pace on a treadmill. I think I lasted less than 30 seconds and ruined my legs for the next week or so. This is simply unimaginable speed as far as I'm concerned.
posted by dowcrag at 7:53 AM on October 12 [3 favorites]


This is about Samuel Wanjiru, and is a story being shared and passed around today by #kot "kenyans on twitter"
posted by Mrs Potato at 8:07 AM on October 12 [2 favorites]


Literaryhero, that's Bay to Breakers which I think happens every May.
posted by The Devil's Grandmother at 8:08 AM on October 12 [2 favorites]


During my running days, I set a goal of running a sub 2-hour half marathon. It took several attempts, since I was never fast, and it was a really motivating goal for those cold winter mornings when I just didn’t want to get out of bed. I’ll never forget how great it felt to run a 1:59:55 half marathon. The thought of a human being running a full marathon, literally twice as far, in that same amount of time, is absolutely unbelievable. Wow!
posted by cheapskatebay at 8:23 AM on October 12 [13 favorites]


I’m running my first half marathon tomorrow, and my goal is to make it to the finish line before they take it down (about 3:20 in). I’ve got even odds on that, I think.

A 1:59 marathon, man. I’m equal parts inspired and preemptively cramped up thinking about it.
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:04 AM on October 12 [3 favorites]


I've only found one image with the pace car included. Here in the CNN story.

It has a laser tower on top. It appears to be just 20-30 feet (6-10 meters) ahead? But the telephoto makes it hard to be sure. If it's that close, it's a useful draft, perhaps as much as the pacer runners. The image shows all seven pacers in front and to his sides, with Kipchoge tucked into the pocket. (The original thread link to the Guardian shows a different formation, which didn't make much sense to me -- with the wedge behind him.)

Still, this wind blocking cuts just minutes off the time, it's still a great achievement.

It's interesting that bike racing uses a long line of riders to cut wind resistance, or often a two-wide double line. Never a wedge. But those speeds are faster, of course, often 25 mph or higher. This marathon is a 13.1 mph average.
posted by jjj606 at 10:15 AM on October 12


4:35 per mile pace.

Another way of looking at it: he ran at just over 13 mph for two hours straight.
posted by Uncle Ira at 10:16 AM on October 12 [3 favorites]


he ran at just over 13 mph for two hours straight.

These school zones are getting out of control.
posted by Etrigan at 10:22 AM on October 12 [9 favorites]


It's interesting that bike racing uses a long line of riders to cut wind resistance, or often a two-wide double line. Never a wedge. But those speeds are faster, of course, often 25 mph or higher

You’ll often see an echelon in races in windy conditions, for example the spring classics, but the intent is still to make sure it’s only one rider at a time expending max effort, same as in a straight pace line. In both, the riders swap out frequently to recover.

If they did a wedge, it’d be a whole bunch of riders burning themselves out with proportionally fewer to replace them at the tip. In the marathon here, they only had to protect one guy, but in a cycling road race you can’t just burn out an entire team of riders because most or all of them need to finish the race.

A cycling time trial is most analogous to a marathon scenario, but there are rules expressly prohibiting drafting in TTs, so a wedge doesn’t work there either.
posted by Special Agent Dale Cooper at 10:28 AM on October 12 [2 favorites]



I just spent the last ten minutes searching and couldn't find it, but I swear there is a race in San Francisco that has the runners tied together. Or at least a prize in the race for runners who are tied together.


Thats the Urban Iditarod. Those people are all drunk, in costume and hauling shopping carts full of booze. Its 5k and takes well over 2 hours because of all the mandatory refreshment stops. Fun race but wind resistance is NOT a factor.
posted by fshgrl at 10:40 AM on October 12




This is just so amazing and cool.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:29 PM on October 12


What I love is that he’s attributing a lot of his success (versus the Nike attempt a few years ago) to having fans cheering him on. They designed the route as a loop where he would pass by stands on a regular rhythm, but with a long enough course that it wouldn’t be monotonous. There’s been a ton of focus on the science behind this but endurance sports even at this level are overwhelmingly mental.

Eliud does appear to be a lovely human. If you’re curious the original breaking2 documentary is available on YouTube— you get a pretty good idea of his personality and approach to life.
posted by q*ben at 3:57 PM on October 12 [5 favorites]


The full race is up too
posted by OHenryPacey at 4:00 PM on October 12 [1 favorite]


Literaryhero: Man that was amazing. He was running just about exactly 2:50/km splits the entire time so I checked my Strava and saw my fastest km was 3:22. I decided to go out this evening and put 100% into one kilometer and see if I could run one in 2:50 for comparison. I ran 3:16 and it hurt. I have no idea how any of this is possible.

For broader context, the amateur record for the mile didn't beat his average mile pace until 1862 (Wikipedia).

There's also been a good bit of virtual ink spilled on the shoes Eliud wore (Running Shoes Guru). And here's coverage of the shoes he wore in 2017 to win the Berlin Marathon (Running Magazine Canada).
posted by filthy light thief at 4:59 PM on October 12


The fascinating thing is that at the end, he doesn't look like a guy who was pushed to his physical extreme. Which suggests he can do it in a place with less ideal conditions, like race conditions. Which I assume is the next goal, do it in an actual marathon.
posted by tavella at 6:17 PM on October 12 [2 favorites]


There’s been a ton of focus on the science behind this but endurance sports even at this level are overwhelmingly mental.

That's whats so crazy. You have to have the right physique to be a top marathoner: light and strong and small feet. You have to have good lungs, a good heart and good nervous system. You have to have perfectly formed joints so they dont wear unevenly under repetitive motion. You have to not get injured or sick for your whole career mostly. You need the right coaches that push you but not too hard. You are always on a diet. You have to travel and leave your family behind and maybe lose out on a romantic relationship or three and probably go overseas at some point and be poor for a while until you start to win and then be good at getting and keeping sponsors, so you need a good personality.

And then, after all that, its a mental game. Someone like Paula Radcliffe with the worst form I've ever seen and all kinds of medical issues comes along and wins everything because she wants it more. Her world record is only 17 minutes off this time. Its exhausting just thinking about it.

Thats why this is so incredible. Sustaining that level of effort for 2 hours is superhuman. The running part is pretty amazing too of course.
posted by fshgrl at 9:15 PM on October 12 [5 favorites]




What will be fascinating now will be to see what effect this has on 'regular' marathon times (including Kipchoge's). Will the mental breakthrough of getting under 2 hours suddenly see people getting faster in regular marathon conditions (the same way as lots of people ran sub 4 minute miles not long after Bannister proved it was possible), or were the technical advantages of this set-up so great that it's still too big a physical leap to get to that speed without them?
posted by penguin pie at 8:10 AM on October 13 [1 favorite]


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