5 Things To Know About Eliud Kipchoge’s Sub-2 Attempt

The marathon world record holder shares details about his preparation for the INEOS 1:59 Challenge happening in October.


Hailey Middlebrook |

  • On August 14, marathon world record holder Eliud Kipchoge dialled into a conference call from his training camp in Kenya to discuss his preparations for the INEOS 1:59 Challenge happening on October 12 in Vienna, Austria.
  • The runner said that while this marathon won’t be eligible for a world record, the event is about making history and leaving behind a legacy.

Among marathoners, there are the best of the best, and then there’s Eliud Kipchoge. Last September, the 2016 Olympic marathon gold medallist from Kenya made history when he won the Berlin Marathon in 2:01:39, shattering the previous world record by a minute and 18 seconds. Then this past April, at age 34, he came back to win the London Marathon in 2:02:37, the second-fastest marathon time ever recorded.

While the IAAF recognised Kipchoge’s Berlin performance as the fastest time ever clocked in the 42.2km distance, Kipchoge technically ran faster than that in 2017, when he ran 2:00:25 in a record-ineligible marathon created by Nike’s Breaking2 Project in Monza, Italy. This spring, Kipchoge is again attempting a sub-2:00 marathon in a similar event dubbed the INEOS 1:59 Challenge, which is set to take place in Vienna, Austria, on October 12. (There is an eight-day window up to October 20 where he could make the attempt should the weather not be ideal on October 12.)

Phoning in from his training camp in Kenya on August 14, Kipchoge spoke to Runner’s World and other journalists on a conference call monitored by INEOS about his preparations for the marathon and how he expects this attempt to be different from Monza.

“I was like a boxer who is going in the ring and doesn’t know what will happen,” he said of his first attempt in 2017. “But this time I am prepared, and I know what will happen.”

Here, we’ve gathered five takeaways to keep in mind as we wait for his run in October.

The INEOS 1:59 Challenge Won’t Count as a World Record

Unfortunately, the presumption that this wouldn’t be record eligible was right. Even if Kipchoge does slip under two hours in Vienna, his time won’t be recognised by the IAAF as a world record, he confirmed on the phone. One of the main reasons is because, like in Monza, Kipchoge will be paced by a rotation of around 30 runners.

According to INEOS, the pace crew will include five-time U.S. Olympian Bernard Lagat, who set a masters marathon record (2:12:10) at the Gold Coast Marathon in July, as well as the talented Norwegian siblings Henrik, Filip, and Jakob Ingebrigtsen, who have earned medals at European and World Championships in distances ranging from 1500 to 10,000 metres. As far as specific details about pacing strategy and what, if any, alternative pacemakers will be present (such as cars or bikes), INEOS will release that information in the coming weeks.

When asked whether he’s bothered by the fact that the IAAF won’t recognise the time if he breaks his own world record in Vienna, Kipchoge responded, “This is about history, it’s about leaving a legacy. It’s about inspiring people. It will mean a lot when I run under two hours.”

Kipchoge Is Running Between 200 and 230 Kilometres Per Week

Kipchoge prepares for all of his major races at a training camp in Kenya with his coach, Patrick Sang, an Olympic silver medallist in the 3,000-metre steeplechase who has mentored Kipchoge throughout his career, as well as an elite team of Kenyan runners. Kipchoge said that he is currently running between 200 and 230 kilometres per week. That’s a significant jump in mileage from his training before London, when he was running between 190-210 kilometres per week, as he told Runner’s World in April.

 

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Good fartlek session with the team! @nnrunningteam @ineos159challenge @nike

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At his training camp, the Kenyan great typically wakes up around 5 a.m., then leaves for his first run at 6 a.m. On his easy days, he goes really easy – sometimes as slow as 9:40 pace – in order to be fresh for workouts, which he presumably runs at his marathon pace (which was 4:38 for Berlin) or faster. In addition to running, Kipchoge is also incorporating more strength work, including core stability exercises, in his build up for this marathon.

He’s Preparing Himself Mentally, Too

While Kipchoge is an astounding athlete, perhaps his greatest strength is his mind. The runner has discussed in several past interviews how important mental strength is during races. Before London, he said, “If you want to break through, your mind should be able to control your body,” he said. “Your mind should be a part of your fitness.”

Going into this race, Kipchoge is as mentally tough as ever. When asked whether he believes he can run a marathon in under 2:00, he said, “I have no doubts.” Along with all of the hard training he puts in, Kipchoge said that the most important factor in his marathoning success is having confidence in himself. “Others will absolutely be able to break 2:00, too, as long as they believe in themselves,” he said.

Vienna Might Be the Perfect Venue to Run a Fast Marathon

Since Kipchoge isn’t attempting to break the barrier in an IAAF-certified marathon, it makes sense that his attempt is taking place in a smaller setting than other major marathon locations, like London or Berlin. The INEOS 1:59 Challenge course in Vienna will be a flat stretch of tree-lined pavement in The Prater, and Kipchoge will cover the 9.6K circuit 4.5 times. He said that he believes the straight course, in comparison to the track in Monza, will be better for running a fast marathon. Interestingly, he said he will not be running the course in advance of the event; instead, he will remain training in his home country until race day.

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