IT’S the most superhuman record in sport – and Britain’s wealthiest man is backing one of the world’s top runners to smash it.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe — who is worth £10billion — yesterday announced that he is funding Eliud Kipchoge’s bid to run a marathon in under two hours.
EPA Kipchoge made headlines last week after winning the London Marathon
No one has ever completed the 26 miles in such lightning speed but Sir Jim believes the Kenyan — who holds the current world record of two hours, one minute, 39 seconds — is on course to do so.
The Olympic champ’s previous tilt at a sub-two-hour time saw him miss the target by just 26 seconds, on a deserted F1 circuit in Monza, Italy, in 2017. By contrast, Kipchoge’s new attempt this autumn will be in front of a huge audience roaring their support — which Sir Jim reckons will be crucial.
The Ineos boss, whose chemicals firm has taken over Tour de France champ Geraint Thomas’s cycling team, said: “If Eliud has got a fantastic crowd cheering him on, it’s going to make a difference — and we don’t need a lot of difference to make up 26 seconds.”
Kipchoge, 34, set his current world-record time at last year’s Berlin Marathon. His faster time of two hours, 25 seconds set in Italy is not recognised by the IAAF, the sport’s governing body, because other runners travelled alongside Kipchoge to help him gauge his speed and drinks were delivered by scooter to ensure he was hydrated at all times.
AP:Associated Press Sir Ratcliffe is funding Kipchoge’s bid to break the two-hour marathon barrier
If successful, then Kipchoge’s second attempt to go under two hours would also be unofficial because he will have had the same kind of support.
But Kipchoge said: “It is not about recognition or ratification but to make history and to pass on a message that no human-being is limited.”
Keen amateur runner Sir Jim, 66, added: “Eliud is the finest marathon runner that there has ever been and I think it will be very inspirational to get kids putting running shoes on.”The record attempt is set to be held in London. If it succeeds, Kipchoge will join a pantheon of sporting greats who have achieved a feat many thought beyond human capability.
In 1954, Brit Sir Roger Bannister became the first person to run a mile in under four minutes. He clocked three minutes, 59.4 seconds at an athletics event in Oxford.
The ten-second barrier for the 100 metres was broken by US runner Jim Hines at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico.
Here, we look at how marathon times have got faster since the early 20th century — and what Kipchoge will need to do if he is to become the first sub-two-hour man.
What he will need
TO break the two-hour barrier, Kipchoge will need to have little wind, mild temperatures and no rain.
He will wear carbon-insole Vaporfly trainers which Nike says improve runners’ use of energy by four per cent.
Pacesetters will help him keep up a blistering pace of 13mph and he will run behind a car to block any wind.
There will be no drink stations to slow him down – liquids will be ferried to him as he runs.
London Marathon 2019: Tens of thousands of people descend on the capital’s streets this weekend for the UK’s largest running event