Runner’s Review: Kipchoge’s 1:59:40

Eliud+Kipchoge+celebrating+after+his+1%3A59%3A40.2+effort+early+in+the+morning+in+Vieana%2C+Austria+on+October+12%2C+2019.+He+is+the+first+man+to+ever+run+under+two+hours.
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Runner’s Review: Kipchoge’s 1:59:40

Eliud Kipchoge celebrating after his 1:59:40.2 effort early in the morning in Vieana, Austria on October 12, 2019. He is the first man to ever run under two hours.

Eliud Kipchoge celebrating after his 1:59:40.2 effort early in the morning in Vieana, Austria on October 12, 2019. He is the first man to ever run under two hours.

The Independent

Eliud Kipchoge celebrating after his 1:59:40.2 effort early in the morning in Vieana, Austria on October 12, 2019. He is the first man to ever run under two hours.

The Independent

The Independent

Eliud Kipchoge celebrating after his 1:59:40.2 effort early in the morning in Vieana, Austria on October 12, 2019. He is the first man to ever run under two hours.

Tyler Boyle

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Runners around the world woke up early, stayed up late, or took a two hour lunch break to witness history this past Saturday as Eliud Kipchoge accomplished what was once thought impossible and broke two hours in the marathon running 1:59:40.2. After the event the running world went nuts as I  had to update Twitter every second if I wanted to hear a new take on the feat. “One giant leap for human endeavour,” “Truly inspiring,” or “he did the impossible” were many of the responses. Although, there were a few in the back hindering the performance claiming the shoes, pacers, pace cars, the way he was given fluids, or controlled looped course takes away from the performance and its enormous effort, claiming it is not that impressive compared to other performances by Kipchoge or other marathoners before him. Being the running guru I am, I could not help but indulge on all of these hot takes and here is what I came up with.

Anyone claiming that this attempt was bad for the sport is being ignorant to what this event’s purpose was for in the first place. Kipchoge and INEOS (the major sponsor of the event) acknowledged long before the event took place that this would not be an official IAAF (the official word record keepers of track and field) world record, but was simply an attempt to explore the limits of human endurance and prove as Kipchoge says “No human is limited.” So, anyone hating on Kipchoge for using pace cars, pacers, controlled course, or perfect weather are not acknowledging why this event took place in the first place.

Secondly, one has to remember Kipchoge has been dominating the whole entire world in the marathon and no one had been even close to Kipchoge’s level. He had no one to challenge him except himself in races. So Kipchoge did what makes sense when one has no human to race against. Race against the clock. For Kipchoge, I can only think that he was getting bored of dominating marathons and wanted a challenge. And what gave him the best chance to beat the clock? A flat course, pacers, a pace car, and good weather. So he created the environment to give himself a shot at success and ultimately came up victorious. This was not a race against man. It was a race against the clock and the limits of human endurance.

Now the one thing I have yet to address that most of the “haters” are pointing too: the shoes. Kipchoge wore the Nike Alpha Fly which is an updated version of the Nike Vaporfly Next %’s and Nike Vaporfly 4%’s. These shoes claim to improve a runner’s running economy at marathon speeds by two to six percent, or an average of four percent. Many running gurus are pointing to the suddenly faster times by athletes wearing theses shoes since the start of the use of these shoes in 2016 until now as an indication that these shoes are an unfair advantage and basically “super shoes,” claiming that the shoes are helping athletes run faster than they are actually capable of. Obviously, this would have major implications on the credibility of Kipchoge’s groundbreaking performance, but here is my take.

The shoes are obviously giving athletes some sort of advantage physically, as at all major marathons a majority of top finishers are using the shoes and average times have started decreasing at a rate faster than the rate previously. Although, I do not think the shoes are giving the shoes are giving athletes like Kipchoge as much as an advantage as people think. Remember, this is just a 4% increase in your running economy (or better running form). Running economy is just one component of how good of a runner your are. The other components, VO2 max and your lactate threshold, are major factors in how good of runner you are and no matter how good of shoe you have, your VO2 max and lactate threshold will not be affected by it. So it is not actually you are a 4% better runner. To continue, what people refuse to recognize as well is other marathon racing shoes are also created to make you have a better running economy (maybe not as much but still). I think people also refuse to recognize that the mental aspect of running faster in an event and how telling a runner they can run faster with a pair of shoes might somewhat cause the placebo effect. However, I do agree the shoes are a big factor in the marathon times the past three to four years to be faster but I do not think it is as drastic as people think.

In conclusion, this was undoubtedly a great event and accomplishment by Eliud Kipchoge. This brought millions of people, not just runners, together to truly believe “No human is limited” and anyone can do what they once thought was impossible if they truly push themselves mentally and physically. People who refuse to give credit to Kipchoge are either not acknowledging the purpose of the event or stuck on the shoes. And if you are stuck on the shoes I understand but I would urge you to first acknowledge the history you had the opportunity to witness and even if he did it with unfair shoes, many others have worn these unfair shoes and have not come close to breaking two hours in the marathon. I simply want you to acknowledge as Kipchoge said, “Today we went to the moon and came back to earth!” Let’s celebrate and be inspired!