The clock is quickly ticking down to world marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge’s attempt to become the first man to cover the iconic 42-kilometre distance in under two hours. Dubbed the “INEOS 1:59 Challenge,” the attempt has been put together by British manufacturing giant INEOS that backs athletics, sailing and cycling, among other sports.
In fact, INEOS – whose chairman and CEO is Sir James Ratcliffe, United Kingdom’s third richest man with an estimated fortune of 18.66 billion pounds (Sh2.26 trillion) - dominated this year’s Tour de France cycling race with the team’s Colombian rider Egan Bernal, 22, becoming the youngest Tour winner in the post-Second World War era.
Kipchoge has concentrated his training at the Global Sports Communications camp in Kaptagat under legendary coach Patrick Sang who has been behind the career success of the greatest marathon runner of all time.
Last week, INEOS released the list of pacemakers who will, hopefully, push Kipchoge to the below two hours’ mark.
The attempt has been programmed for October 12 in The Prater, Vienna, but the window has been left open until October 12, just in case weather conditions on October 12 aren’t ideal for the run.
In his previous attempt backed by shoe sponsors Nike and dubbed “Breaking2” in Monza, Italy, in 2017, Kipchoge, 34 was just 26 seconds short of target.
Meaning that he now needs to get these 26 seconds off in Vienna, which translates to an improvement of one second per mile, “a true challenge which he believes will be possible,” according to INEOS.
“It is well recognised that if Kipchoge, the world’s greatest marathon runner and current world record holder, cannot break the two hour barrier at the peak of his career, it may be decades before we see another runner capable of the feat,” INEOS says in a statement.
Norway’s famous running brothers Henrik, Filip and Jakob Ingebrigtsen have been included in the field of pacemakers - or “rabbits” – for the Vienna run.
Others include Kenya-born US distance running sensation Bernard Lagat, who was also part of the party in Monza, Kipchoge’s training partners in Kaptagat Augustine Choge and Victor along with the Australian pair of Jack Rayner and Brett Robinson.
Jakob, who will have turned 19 by the time of the INEOS 1:59 Challenge, will be the youngest of Kipchoge’s pacemakers while Lagat, a five-time Olympian and 13-time medallist in World Championships and Olympic Games, at 44, will be the oldest.
Reporting with additional text and images from INEOS 1:59 Challenge and Global Sports Communication teams.