Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge to make fresh attempt at breaking two-hour marathon barrier

Monday May 6 2019

Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge crosses the finish line to win the elite men's race of the 2019 London Marathon in central London on April 28, 2019. PHOTO | AFP

Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge crosses the finish line to win the elite men's race of the 2019 London Marathon in central London on April 28, 2019. PHOTO | AFP 

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Eliud Kipchoge doesn’t feel limited. He believes no human is limited.

That’s why, after falling just 26 seconds shy of breaking the two-hour barrier in the marathon in May 2017, the world marathon record holder still believes he can be the first man to dip under the iconic time.

On Monday, Kipchoge announced he will have another go at “breaking two” in a specially organised race, probably in London, “between late September and early October.”

In the first attempt at the Nike-engineered “Breaking2” project, Kipchoge, 35, powered by a cocktail of pacemakers on the Monza Formula One race track, ran two hour and 25 seconds, falling agonisingly close to breaking the two-hour barrier.

INEOS 1:59

The fresh attempt – dubbed “INEOS 1:59 Challenge” - is backed by British chemical manufacturer, INEOS, which also has interests in other endurance sports such as cycling and sailing.


Among INEOS’s projects is the “Daily Mile” and “GO Run For Fun” charity initiatives that seek to have students in England’s schools stay active.

INEOS also supports Swiss football club, Lausanne-Sport and Britain’s challenge for the iconic America’s Cup sailing competition spearheaded by British sailing legend, Sir Ben Ainslie.

“Two years ago in Monza, the world got to 26 seconds from breaking the last milestone in athletics. This fall I want to break this barrier. Follow the journey on @INEOS159 as I attempt to rewrite history,” Kipchoge posted on Twitter on Monday.

Kipchoge’s stable, Global Sports Communications (GSC), which is based in Nijmegen, Netherlands, further announced that a London venue for the fresh attempt is being considered.


GSC is headed by former Dutch distance running champion Jos Hermens and handles some of the world’s top elite athletes including Kenya’s multiple world cross country champion Geoffrey Kamworor and Ethiopian legends Haile Gebrselassie and Kenenisa Bekele.

“The sub two-hour marathon is the last great barrier of modern athletics. Eliud Kipchoge, the world’s greatest marathon runner, will attempt to break the two-hour barrier in the INEOS 1:59 Challenge, a special marathon being run between late September and early October 2019,” GSC said in a statement issued by the management company’s marketing manager Marleen Vink-Rennings.

“The event will be supported and managed by INEOS. The venue for the INEOS 1:59 Challenge is currently being decided, with a number of options that offer a flat looped circuit being investigated for the event which is planned for late September or early October 2019.

“A major marketing campaign will publicise the run and live coverage will be broadcast across the world, both on traditional and digital channels. Tens of thousands of spectators are expected to attend.


Kipchoge, fresh from winning the London Marathon in the second fastest ever marathon time of 2:02:38, said the Monza attempt was the “proudest moment” of his career and that he was excited to have another go at the two-hour barrier.

“Running the fastest ever marathon time of 2:00:25 was the proudest moment of my career. To get another chance to break the magical two-hour mark is incredibly exciting. I always say that no human is limited, and I know that it is possible for me to break this barrier,” he said on Monday.

Athletics is always made more exciting when traditional barriers fall.

The announcement of Kipchoge’s latest sub-two attempt comes on the 65th anniversary of Briton Sir Roger Bannister’s world’s first sub-four minute mile, clocked on May 6, 1964 at the Iffley Road track in Oxford, England, which is now known as the “Sir Roger Bannister Running Track.”

Paced by Christopher Chataway and Chris Basher for the first three laps, Bannister ran three minutes, 59.4 seconds to become the first man to dip under four minutes in the popular mile race.


Perhaps why it’s significant for Kipchoge to make his attempt on English soil, coupled by the fact that the fresh attempt is being bankrolled by an English concern.

Just over a year after falling short on the “breaking two” attempt, Kipchoge shattered the world marathon record, running 2:02:39 at the 2018 Berlin Marathon on September 17.

“Now, following a historic fourth London Marathon win, the world number one believes he is ready to break the two-hour barrier in the INEOS 1:59 Challenge,” Vink-Rennings said in Monday’s statement.

Kipchoge says he looks forward to the months of preparations and that with the right focus, “anything is possible.”

“I learnt a lot from my previous attempt and I truly believe that I can go 26 seconds faster than I did in Monza two years ago. It gives me great pride to accept the challenge presented by INEOS.

“I am very excited about the months of good preparation to come and to show the world that when you focus on your goal, when you work hard and when you believe in yourself, anything is possible.”


As usual, Kipchoge will be supported by Patrick Sang, his inspirational long-term coach, and the team that has led him throughout his successful career who will do all they can during the preparatory phase to ensure that nothing is left to chance.

"As Eliud showed in Monza, when he came within touching distance of achieving what many had previously thought impossible, he is a truly special athlete with incredible levels of mental resolve," explains Sang, an Olympic steeplechase silver medallist and former sports executive of the Nandi County Government.

"Throughout his dazzling marathon career, he has pushed the event to a new stratosphere and with the right preparation, I believe he has the ability to make history."

“Eliud Kipchoge is the greatest ever marathon runner and the only athlete in the world who has any chance of beating the two-hour time. We are going to give him every support and hopefully witness sporting history,” Sir Jim Ratcliffe, founder and Chairman of INEOS said on Monday.

“In order to break the two-hour barrier, an athlete will have to have optimised their physiology, biomechanics and of course their mental strength. A crowd of 250,000 people really can make that extra difference to take Eliud Kipchoge into the history books,” sponsors INEOS said, hinting at the possibility of a cheering party as Kipchoge makes the fresh attempt, different from the Monza run which didn’t have any fans, save for a few Nike technicians, backroom staff and support crews.

And like the build-up to the Monza attempt, Kipchoge is likely to concentrate his training at his traditional training base of Kaptagat where he has a galaxy of distance running stars for company under the GSC stable.

-Additional reporting by Global Sports Communications.



Some of the greatest individual sporting achievements:

Running the first ever sub two-hour marathon will be amongst the greatest individual sporting achievements of all time. Eliud Kipchoge is capable of this most remarkable human endeavour. If he succeeds he will be in illustrious company:

  • Roger Bannister: The first man to run a mile in under 4 minutes, in Oxford in 1954.
  • Usain Bolt: The fastest man in history, setting a record 9.58 seconds for the 100 metres, in Berlin in 2009.
  • Nadia Comaneci: The first gymnast to be awarded a perfect 10, at the Olympic Games in Montreal, 1976.
  • Rocky Marciano: The only undefeated heavyweight champion in history.
  • Alex Honnold: The first free-solo ascent of El Capitan, 2017.
  • Steffe Graf: World Number 1 for a record 377 weeks.
  • Jesse Owens: Set 5 world records in 45 minutes, in Michigan in 1935.
  • Felix Baumgartner: The highest ever free-fall parachute jump, 39 miles above New Mexico, 2012.
  • Edmund Hilary and Tenzing Norgay: The first confirmed summit of Mount Everest, 1953.

Compiled by Global Sports Communications