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Is a two-hour marathon really possible? Nike wants to make it happen in 2017.

By SI Wire
December 12, 2016

Nike has devised a new plan to break the two-hour marathon barrier in spring 2017 with a new project called Breaking2, the company announced on Monday.

Olympic gold medalist Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya, two-time Boston Marathon champion Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia, and half-marathon world record holder Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea have started their training for a spring marathon to not just shatter Dennis Kimetto's world record of 2:02:57 but crack 2:00:00. The goal pace for a 1:59:59 marathon is 4:34 per mile for 26.2 miles. Kimetto's world record pace was 4:41 per mile.

Kipchoge has the fastest personal best of the three runners with his 2:03:05 personal best from the 2015 London Marathon. Desisa is the next fastest with a 2:04:45 personal best. Tadese has fared better at the half-marathon with his 58:23 world record but has run 2:10:41 for the full 26.2.

Marathon specialists and scientists previously concluded that a sub-two hour marathon would not be likely until about 2075.

The sportswear giant has yet to determine or announce where the race will be run and whether the record, if achieved, would be sanctioned by governing bodies like the International Association of Athletics Federation or the Association of Road Racing Statisticians.

Nike is not alone in the quest to break the barrier. World renowned sports and exercise scientist Yannis Pitsiladis has been working with Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele to try and chip away at the world record and get closer to the barrier. Bekele, the world record holder at 5,000 and 10,000 meters, most recently ran 2:03:03 in September's Berlin Marathon, which is the second-fastest marathon on a world-record eligible course. Bekele is not part of the project and is likely going to run a spring marathon.

The project does not consider Kimetto or previous world record holders Wilson Kipsang and Patrick Makau of Kenya, who are all sponsored by Adidas.

- Chris Chavez

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