Kenya's long-distance runner Eliud Kipchoge became the first person to run a marathon in less than two hours, blowing through the barrier by nearly 20 seconds in a special event in Vienna on Saturday. Kipchoge completed the 26.2-mile challenge in 1 hour, 59 minutes and 40 seconds. As he crossed the finish line, the 34-year-old pounded his palms on his chest and smiled brightly. He threw his arms around his wife, who was waiting for him at the end, then let a throng of supporters hoist him into the air.
“I’m the happiest man,” said Kipchoge, a Kenyan flag draped over his shoulders. “No human is limited. You can do it.” Despite being the fastest marathon ever recorded, Kipchoge’s time won’t count as an official world record because the run didn’t take place in an open event. The challenge, backed by the British chemical company Ineos, was held on a closed 6-mile course in a park in the Austrian capital, and Kipchoge was aided in the run by more than three-dozen pacemakers who rotated in and out several at a time throughout the race.
But the milestone in athletic achievement, long considered impossible, reverberated around the world. In Eldoret, Kenya, where Kipchoge lives with his wife and three children, a massive crowd danced and cheered in the street in celebration of their hometown hero’s accomplishment. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta congratulated Kipchoge. “You’ve done it, you’ve made history and made Kenya proud while at it,” Kenyatta said. “Your win today, will inspire tens of future generations to dream big and to aspire for greatness.”
In Vienna, four-time Tour de France champion Chris Froome said: “It’s phenomenal, it’s fantastic, it’s just incredible to watch him - it looks like he’s not even breathing. He’s just gliding over the road. It’s fantastic to be here, and be part of this atmosphere.”
Kipchoge set an official marathon world record in Berlin in 2018, completing the race in 2 hours, 1 minute and 39 seconds. That record still stands. This is his second attempt to break the two-hour mark. His first came in 2017 in a closed run in Monza, Italy, but he fell short by 26 seconds.
In crossing the two-hour threshold, Kipchoge joins the ranks of British runner Roger Bannister, who made history in 1954 when he became the first person to run a mile in less than 4 minutes - an achievement which, like Kipchoge’s, was once viewed as unattainable.
It has taken 65 years for a human to make history in sport after Roger Bannister made history in 1954,” Kipchoge said at the finish line. “I’m expecting more of the athletes in all of the world to run under two hours after today. We can make this world a beautiful world and a peaceful world,” Kipchoge said.
Kenya's Brigid Kosgei breaks women's record
Kenyan runner Brigid Kosgei smashed the women's world record at the Chicago marathon on Sunday. The 25-year-old athlete completed the race in two hours, 14 minutes and four seconds, according to the Chicago Marathon's Twitter account. Kosgei shattered the longstanding women's world record of two hours, fifteen minutes and 25 seconds set by legendary runner Paula Radcliffe in 2003 at the London Marathon.
"It was 17 years ago exactly today that I set the first world record here in Chicago," Radcliffe said. "That was a special day for me today and it's a very special day for Brigid today." Kosgei, whose time would have been a men's world record in 1964, was beaten by only 22 runners in the men's race. "I'm feeling good and I am happy because I was not expected to run like this," Kosgei said.
Kosgei won the Chicago marathon last year as well. She also dominated the London Marathon this year, with a time of two hours, 18 minutes and 20 seconds - and broke another record, becoming the youngest winner of the race.