Karoki says bid impossible as Nike’s Breaking2 nears

From left to right in back row: Lesisa Desisa, Zersenay Tadese, and Eliud Kipchoge begin ...
From left to right in back row: Lesisa Desisa, Zersenay Tadese, and Eliud Kipchoge begin a half marathon test on the Formula One circuit in Monza, Italy on March 7. The trio will attempt to run a sub-2:00 Marathon at the venue in early May. (PHOTO/CHRIS LAWRENCE)

Olympic Marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge might be setting himself up to become the first man to break the two-hour barrier but compatriot Bedan Karoki believes it is all an implausible bid.

Karoki, who made clocked 2:07:41 for third in an impressive marathon debut in London on Sunday, said Nike’s Breaking2 project remains an improbable task for Kipchoge and his two associates.

Nike identified Kipchoge, Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia and Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea in the ambitious bid to shatter what has now become a holy grail for athletics’ ultimate distance.

“For me breaking two hours is not possible. Running a half marathon in under an hour is hard enough – after I do it I am sick – so to run the same again for me is much too difficult,” Karoki who ran 59.10 in February at the Ras al-Khaimah half-marathon told British press the Guardian.

The apparent difficulty of breaking the two-hour mark has led some to suggest that today’s distance runners have hit some kind of natural barrier in human ability that may never be overcome.

But on May 6, three of marathon’s finest athlete’s will have the impossible in mind when they hit the Monza Formula One track in Italy seeking to run 1:59.59 or faster.

That would means shaving an enormous three minutes off the current record of 2:02.57, set by Denis Kimetto at the Berlin Marathon in 2014.

It’s a mind-boggling leap that Kipchoge, a two-time London Marathon champion, believes can be breached. He gave up the defence of his title that now belongs to compatriot Daniel Wanjiru to be involved in the project.

American multinational sportswear and apparel company Nike which sponsors Kipchoge has poured vast amounts of money into the event and plans to stream it live.

Kipchoge who has also won the Hamburg and Berlin marathons recently ran an impressive half marathon time of 59:17 that was well under the pre-event goal of 60:00 during a recent test run for the Breaking2.

Tadese followed in 59:41 and Desisa lagged behind in 62:55, having fallen off the pace less than halfway through.

Kipchoge, 32, is training with the specially made Nike Zoom Vaporfly Elite shoes he will use in his pursuit to break the two hour barrier.

Nike’s rattling rivals Adidas quietly referred to their own sub-2 bid in February with the announcement of the Adidas Adizero Sub2 shoe.

With Adidas also funding its own sub-two-hour project there are understandable worries over where this might all lead.

As the renowned sports scientist Ross Tucker, who has written extensively about the two-hour marathon, puts it: “If you start the physiological equivalent of an arms race, then people will eventually find the heavy weaponry. It’s human nature.”

Yet if anyone can do it, it is Kipchoge – an athlete who was good enough as an 18-year-old to beat Kenenisa Bekele and Hicham El Guerrouj to win a world 5,000m title in 2003 and has won seven of the eight marathons he has entered.

-Additional material sourced from theguardian.com.

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Story By Matthews Mutai
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