Kipchoge crosses the finish line during his attempt to run a marathon in under two hours in Vienna [Leonhard Foeger/Reuters]
Eliud Kipchoge has made history as he becomes the first athlete to run a marathon in less than two hours, although the feat will not count as a world record, according to the world athletics body.
The Kenyan Olympic marathon champion and world record holder completed a course around Vienna’s Prater park in one hour, 59 minutes and 40 seconds on a cool, misty and windless autumnal morning on Saturday.
Kipchoge was supported by 36 pacemakers who accompanied him in alternating groups, one of the reasons the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) will not ratify the time as a world record.
However, its president Sebastian Coe welcomed the record attempt.
Running at a consistent average pace of 2:50 minutes per kilometre (4:33.5 minutes per mile), Kipchoge was 11 seconds ahead of schedule halfway through his run.
The pacemakers left him for the final 500 metres, and Kipchoge punched his chest twice in celebration when he finished.
— Eliud Kipchoge (@EliudKipchoge) October 12, 2019
The Prater park in the Austrian capital offered long straights, protected from the wind by high trees, for most of the 9.6-kilometre course, which Kipchoge completed more than four times.
Speaking after the race, Kipchoge said: “It has taken 65 years for a human being to make history in sport. I am the happiest man to run under two hours. I am here to inspire everyone that it can be done.”
It was his second attempt at breaking the two-hour barrier, after missing out by 26 seconds at a similar event on the Formula One track in Monza, Italy, in May 2017.
Kipchoge, who took Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 and has won 10 of his 11 marathons, holds the official world record of 2:01:39 since shattering the previous best mark by 78 seconds in Berlin last year.