Robin Pope/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The sub-two attempt is set for Oct. 12-20th in Vienna.

By Chris Chavez
August 14, 2019

Olympic champion and world record holder Eliud Kipchoge is preparing to try and run a marathon in under two hours during the INEOS 1:59 Challenge in Vienna in October. During a conference call with reporters on Wednesday morning, Kipchoge compared the feat to Neil Armstrong's moon landing in 1969. 

“This is about history and making a mark in sport," Kipchoge said from his training camp in Kenya. "It’s like the first man to go to the moon. I will be the first man to run under two hours. This is crucial."

Kipcgoge, 34, won marathon gold in Rio to add to his 5,000-meter Olympic silver medal from 2008 and 5,000-meter Olympic bronze medal from 2004. He is also a three-time world championship medalist. Since moving to the roads in 2013, Kipchoge has been one of the most dominant athletes in sports, winning 11 of his 12 career marathons. Most recently, he won the London Marathon in April for the fourth time. His winning mark of 2:02:37 is the second-fastest in history behind his own 2:01:39 world record from the 2018 Berlin Marathon. Despite all his success in the sport so far, Kipcgoge still said running a sub-two-hour marathon is more important than his world record or Olympic medals.

In 2017, he passed on running a spring marathon to work with Nike on an optimized attempt at running under two hours for the 26.2-mile distance. He ended up running 2:00:25 on a looped Formula 1 course in Monza, Italy. That run does not count as an official world record due to the use of alternating pacemakers to keep Kipchoge under the required pace. The conversation and idea to try and break the two-hour barrier again started in December when Kipchoge was talking to his agent Valentijn Trouw at the IAAF Athletics Awards Gala in Monaco.

Kipchoge said that much of his training has remained the same but he is making tweaks to mentally prepare better for the race. During his attempt in Monza, Kipchoge says that he realized sub-two was slipping away from him within the final kilometer. At the moment, he estimated that he is at about 75% of his peak fitness level and is currently running anywhere from 120 to 136 miles per week.

Kipchoge added that he did not plan on visiting Vienna before the attempt but may arrive in the Austrian capital to run on the course. He believes the ideal temperature for the race would be in the 51° to 53° Farenheight range. 

The INEOS 1:59 Challenge organizers have kept certain details about the attempt a secret but plan on making further announcements about the run, pacers and set-up at a later date. A test event on the course will take place before October. The official attempt is scheduled for Oct. 12 to 20th at the Prater Park. Organizers have set aside several days in order to work with the best weather conditions for the event.

It is not likely that the International Association of Athletics Federation, the sport's governing body, will ratify this attempt for a world record. Kipchoge is OK with that and told reporters, "I want to make history and leaving a legacy. It's not about making it a world record."

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