Final Pacers Make Kipchoge 6/4 For First Sub-2 Hour Marathon

Final Pacers Make Kipchoge 6/4 For First Sub-2 Hour Marathon

Marathon world record holder Eliud Kipchoge is now 6/4 to become the first runner to run a marathon in under two hours, after announcing the World Championships 5000m silver medallist as one of his 41 pacemakers for the attempt later this month.

Ethiopian teenager Selemon Barega went into the championships in Doha ranked number two in the world over 5000m, and was beaten only by defending champion and team mate Muktar Edris.

The 19-year-old, second fastest in the world this year over 5000m and 10,000m, will now join an illustrious list of some of the world's greatest distance runners, lined up to help Kipchoge break the infamous two-hour barrier at a special event in Vienna on October 12, branded INEOS 1:59 Challenge.

His presence, along with the likes of three-time Olympic champion Bernard Lagat, Rio 2016 1500m champion Matthew Centrowitz, Olympic and World 5000m star Paul Chelimo, European 10,000m record-holder Julien Wanders, and 2:04:11 marathon runner Marius Kipserem, adds serious weight to Kipchoge's chances.

The 34-year-old Kenyan is 6/4 to run the first marathon under two hours this year, bookmakers Betway making it 6/1 that a runner will achieve that in 2020, or 2021, though the odds are also 6/4 that the feat will be realised in 2022 or later.

That means that Kipchoge has been given around a 40% chance of breaking that two-hour barrier in Vienna this year.

What Is The Marathon World Record?

Kipchoge's official world record stands at 2:01:39, set in the notoriously fast Berlin Marathon in 2018, but he also achieved 2:00:25 at the Nike Breaking2 event set up for him at Monza motorsport track in Italy in 2017.

The use of in-and-out pacemakers and fuel on-demand meant that time cannot be officially ratified as a world record, and the latest attempt will use similar tactics, so it will not be an official world record, but Kipchoge does not feel this detracts from the potential achievement.

"It’s like the first man to go to the moon!" Kipchoge told Running Magazine. "It will be like going to the moon, stepping on the highest mountain, or going to the middle of the ocean. This is another historic moment in sport."

Who Else Is Pacemaking For Kipchoge?

Among 41 pacemakers named in the all-star team are 15 athletes who competed at the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha, four Olympic medalists, the European 10km record holder, and five men who have recently run marathons in less than 2:08.

Confirmed on Friday were the final 14, including Ronald Musagala, the winner of two Diamond League 1500m races in 2019 and Matthew Centrowitz, the reigning Olympic 1500m champion.

Spencer Barden, Head of Pacemakers for the INEOS 1:59 Challenge, said: “This is an incredible group of athletes that has been put together to help Eliud try to make history. From athletes shining at the current World Championships such as the Ingebrigtsen brothers and Selemon Barega, to an absolute legend of the sport in Bernard Lagat, this really is a dream team of pacemakers.

“These athletes are coming in from all corners of the world. Many of them have had long, tough seasons on the track circuit but not one of them needed convincing. They all recognise this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. They recognise the greatness of Eliud and they want to help him break what is the last great barrier in athletics and become part of history.”


Kipchoge's Pacemakers In Numbers

2:04:11 - the fastest marathon time in the line up, set by Marius Kipserem in the 2019 Rotterdam Marathon

58:42 - the fastest half-marathon time, set by Eric Kiptanui in the 2018 Berlin Marathon. It's also the seventh fastest time in half-marathon history

12:43.02 - the fastest 5000m time, set by Selemon Barega in Brussels in 2018 - a World Junior Record and the fourth 5000m time ever.

22 - the number born in Kenya, with six runners hailing from Uganda, four from Australia, three from Norway, two from Ethiopia, and one from the USA, Sudan, Japan, and Switzerland

44 - the age of the oldest pacemaker, Bernard Lagat, a five-time Olympic champion, who also worked with Kipchoge on the Nike Breaking2 project. Norway's Jakob Ingebrigtsen is the youngest, having turned 18 on September 19

1.74m - the average height of Kipchoge's 41 pacemakers, the tallest measuring 1.89m and the smallest 1.53m

58kg - the average weight of the INEOS 1:59 pacemakers


How Kipchoge's 1:59 Challenge Works

The pacemakers will be split into teams of runners who will be rotated into the INEOS 1:59 Challenge to pace Kipchoge during a designated stretch of the marathon distance.

The whole challenge will be run on a straight, flat, 9.6km circuit in Vienna, Austria, Kipchoge running the 90% straight course 4.4 times to complete the official marathon distance of 42.2km, or 26 miles.

The Prater was chosen because the area has what is considered perfect marathon conditions, elevation above sea level of 165m, air temperature ranging from 6.4C to 14.3C and average humidity levels of only 79%.

It is also only a one-hour time difference from Vienna to Kipchoge's home, and training grounds, in Kenya, meaning his eating, sleeping, and training patterns are minimally affected by the location.

The event is scheduled to take place on October 12, but if weather conditions are not optimum, it can be delayed to take place any day up to and including October 20.

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