Ahead of their time?

Nike launched a project to "break" the two-hour barrier in the marathon, which is 42.195km, this weekend. The project, called "Breaking2", took place in Italy on Saturday.

To crack the two-hour milestone, a runner was required to run under 68.25sec every 400m. It was no mean feat given that to achieve an 8:30 timing in the 2.4km Individual Physical Proficiency Test (IPPT), one would have to clock 85sec for each 400m lap.

Eliud Kipchoge eventually missed the mark by a mere 24 seconds.

How fast is a sub-two hour marathoner?

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8:30 runner in IPPT 2.4km (for six laps)
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Sub-two hour marathoner (for about 105.5 laps)

The runners

Lelisa Desisa

Lelisa Desisa, 27, Ethiopia

Marathon silver medallist at the 2013 world championships. PB is 2:04:45 set at the 2013 Dubai Marathon.

Eliud Kipchoge

Eliud Kipchoge, 32, Kenya

Last year's Olympic marathon gold medallist and former 5,000m world champion, the Kenyan has won seven of his eight marathons. His best of 2:03:05 is the third-fastest in history.

Zersenay Tadese

Zersenay Tadese, 35, Eritrea

Owns the men's half marathon world record (58:23) and won Olympic bronze in 10,000m at 2004 Athens Games. Personal best is 2:10:41 set at the 2012 London Marathon.

The Course

The sub-two hour attempt consisted of about 17 laps on a 2.4km loop that forms part of the Monza F1 track in northern Italy. It was selected due to a combination of environmental factors, including average temperature, air pressure and wind levels. The surface, with no kerbs or cambers, was also considered optimal.

THE KIT The three runners wore wear special socks, shorts and singlets. It is claimed they offer an advantage in terms of aerodynamics and/or ventilation and support. PACERS All three runners were accompanied be accompanied by an elite group of pacers, who rotated among themselves to help ensure the record-breaking pace. Among the pacers were multiple Olympic and world championship medallist Bernard Lagat, Under-20 world champion (5,000m) Selemon Barega and two-time Olympian Collis Birmingham. MOBILE SUPPORT The runners followed a car with a large clock on the back showing elapsed time, splits, and projected finish time. They were also served drinks on the move, avoiding the need to slow down and lose rhythm at traditional drinks stations. THE SHOES Nike's 200g Zoom Vaporfly Elite was custom-fitted for the three athletes. It combines a new foam and curved carbon insert, which also helps change the angle of the foot. This means runners require 4 per cent less energy to go at the same speed compared to previous shoes.
THE KIT The three runners wore wear special socks, shorts and singlets. It is claimed they offer an advantage in terms of aerodynamics and/or ventilation and support. MOBILE SUPPORT The runners followed a car with a large clock on the back showing elapsed time, splits, and projected finish time. They will also be served drinks on the move, avoiding the need to slow down and lose rhythm at traditional drinks stations. THE SHOES Nike's 200g Zoom Vaporfly Elite was custom-fitted for the three athletes. It combines a new foam and curved carbon insert, which also helps change the angle of the foot. This means runners require 4 per cent less energy to go at the same speed compared to previous shoes.
THE KIT The three runners wore wear special socks, shorts and singlets. It is claimed they offer an advantage in terms of aerodynamics and/or ventilation and support. THE SHOES Nike's 200g Zoom Vaporfly Elite was custom-fitted for the three athletes. It combines a new foam and curved carbon insert, which also helps change the angle of the foot. This means runners require 4 per cent less energy to go at the same speed compared to previous shoes.
Progression of marathon world record
1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010 3:00:0002:40:0002:20:0002:00:000
1910 1920 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010 3:00:0002:40:0002:20:0002:00:000
1910 1930 1950 1970 1990 2010 3:00:0002:40:0002:20:0002:00:000
st one

2:55:18

Johnny Haynes at 1908 London Olympics

The American's victory, in front of the King of England's royal box, was the first marathon conducted over the now official distance of 42.195km.

st one

2:29:01

Albert Michelsen at 1925 Port Chester Marathon in New York

The plumber from Stamford, Connecticut, was the first man to run below 2:30.

st one

2:26:42

Sohn Kee Chung at the 1935 Tokyo Marathon

The Korean became the first Asian to hold the marathon world record. He went on to win gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

st one

2:14:28

Leonard Edelen at the 1963 Polytechnic Marathon in England

The American was based in England for several years and became the first man to post a sub-2:15 time. He was elected to the US' National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 2016.

st one

2:09.36

Derek Clayton at the 1967 Fukuoka Marathon in Japan

The Australian was the first man to break the 2:10 barrier and then lowered his world record two years later in Antwerp by more than a minute with a 2:08:33 effort.

st one

2:04:55

Paul Tergat at the 2003 Berlin Marathon

A two-time Olympic silver medallist (10,000m), the Kenyan took a momentary wrong turn near the finish but still won the race in Berlin and was the first to go under 2:05.

st one

2:02:57

Dennis Kimetto at the 2014 Berlin Marathon

The Kenyan averaged 4min 41.5sec for each mile as he broke the world record. He is the only man with a sub-2:03 time and his effort was 26sec faster than the previous world record of 2:03:23 set by compatriot Wilson Kipsang at the 2013 Berlin Marathon.

Photos: NIKE, AFP, REUTERS, GETTY IMAGES
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