On 6 May 1964, Sir Roger Bannister achieved what many believed to be impossible and ran the
world’s first sub-four-minute mile at the Iffley Road track in Oxford.
That historic achievement remains one of the most iconic events in the history of sport. 6 May 2019, on its 65th anniversary, Eliud Kipchoge, the greatest marathon runner of all time, announced his plan to break the legendary two-hour barrier.
The world marathon record holder (2:01:39) and Olympic champion over the distance has thrown down a challenge to humanity that no human is limited. And to prove it, he has invited the world to watch him attempt to run 42.195km in under two hours in Vienna, Austria -- a task he insists is only curtailed by mental barriers.
"It gives me great pride to accept the challenge presented by INEOS. I am very excited about the months of good preparation to come and to show the world that when you focus on your goal, when you work hard and when you believe in yourself, anything is possible”
Eliud Kipchoge says, “I learnt a lot from my previous attempt and I truly believe that I can go 26 seconds faster than I did in Monza two years ago. It gives me great pride to accept the challenge presented by INEOS. I am very excited about the months of good preparation to come and to show the world that when you focus on your goal, when you work hard and when you believe in yourself, anything is possible”.
Eliud will be supported by Patrick Sang, his inspirational long-term coach, and the team that has led him throughout his successful career who will do all they can during the preparatory phase to ensure that nothing is left to chance.
"As Eliud showed in Monza, when he came within touching distance of achieving what many had previously thought impossible, he is a truly special athlete with incredible levels of mental resolve," explains Patrick.
"Throughout his dazzling marathon career he has pushed the event to a new stratosphere and with the right preparation, I believe he has the ability to make history."
A major marketing campaign will publicise the run and live coverage will be broadcast across the world, both on traditional and digital channels. Tens of thousands of spectators are expected to attend.
INEOS 1:59 Challenge is being supported by INEOS, one of the world’s largest manufacturing companies, which also sponsors the children’s running charities, GO Run For Fun and The Daily Mile.
On May 6 this year, Kipchoge told Associated Press: “I want to unlock that thought that there are limitations in the human being,” “There are no barriers when you believe in yourself and try and trust in what you are doing,” he added.
For his unflinching self-belief and infinite possibilities available to humanity, Kipchoge instantly gained the trust of British multi-billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, founder of chemicals group INEOS.
The Briton, estimated by London-based Sunday Times Rich List to be worth $28 billion, immediately declared he was opening his purse to 34-year-old to unlock human potential. Sir Ratcliffe says,
“Eliud Kipchoge is the greatest ever marathon runner and the only athlete in the world who has any chance of beating the two-hour time. We are going to give him every support and hopefully witness sporting history”.
Ratcliffe’s endorsement set in motion a flurry activities, ranging from identifying the race circuit, determining ideal weather conditions, Kipchoge’s training regime that includes running 200km per week just to get into tip-top shape.
The day of reckoning is October 12 with organisers setting an eight-day window (up to October 20) to pick the day when the weather conditions would be ideal for Kipchoge to attempt a sub-two-hour marathon.
Kipchoge did attempt to break the two-hour barrier in Monza, Italy on May 6, 2017, but ended up 25 seconds shot when he returned 2 hours and 25 seconds (2:00:25). The Vienna race, which will demonstrate the resilience of the human spirit, will no doubt send adrenaline levels running high around the globe. Every tissue in Kipchoge’s body, all vital organs starting with the heart and of course the brain will be stretched to the limit.
Gerald Lwande, a Biomedical Scientist at Precise Genomics Laboratories believes it will be the ultimate test for Kipchoge.
“I strongly believe his body will handle the rigours of the exercise,” Lwande said yesterday. “In Monza, Eliud achieved a time of 2 hours and 25 seconds. It is believed that with the improved shoe, hydration, course modification and other technologies; Eliud will run below two hours (1 hour 59 minutes) without any adverse physiological outcome.”
Like the rest of the world, Kenya with awaits one of their greatest sons to break the barrier that will inspire every soul in the world to pursue their countless possibilities. The World Awaits…Will the legendary runner set new heights in marathon? Run 42 kilometres under two hours? Time will tell. The World Awaits…
Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s bid to sponsor the INEOS 1:59 Challenge elicits a mixture of excitement and expectations.
He was born in 1952 and grew up in a council house in Greater Manchester, attending grammar school before studying chemical engineering at the University of Birmingham.
After graduating, he joined Esso before gaining business experience at a US private equity group.
But his big break through came in 1998 when he founded Ineos - a petrochemical company now with a turnover of £48bn and sites across 26 countries.
His own personal fortune - an estimated £21bn - led him to reach the number one spot of the 2018 UK Sunday Times rich list. In recent years Ratcliffe - knighted for his services to business - has continued to hit the headlines, largely for unconventional business moves.
In 2018, Ineos bought Belstaff, the luxury motorcycle clothing maker and became the sponsor of the British professional cycle team formerly called Team Sky.
The company also announced plans to build a new off-road vehicle based on the Land Rover Defender, which was discontinued in 2016.
Ratcliffe - a keen Brexiteer - is a known supporter of British brands and businesses, describing Britain as a "very creative nation, hard-working". But perhaps this latest move is also down to his taste for adventure. He is funding Eliud Kipchoge's bid to break the two-hour marathon.
He is also a keen amateur cyclist and recently spent five weeks motorbiking in the Andes. Ratcliffe has taken over ownership of cycling's former Team Sky, funded Ben Ainslie's 2021 America's Cup sailing challenge and owns Swiss soccer club Lausanne Sport.
His move to sponsor Kipchoge’s 1:59 bid comes two years after Global Sports Communications, which manages the world record holder, unveiled the NN Running Team in Rotterdam. The NN Running Team brings together top running athletes in the world that include Kipchoge and Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele, who are just two of the 60 athletes who are members of the NN Running Team.
Others include two-time world marathon champion Abel Kirui, 2012 Olympic and 2013 world marathon champion Stephen Kiprotich of Uganda and Ethiopia’s former New York Marathon winner Ghirmay Ghebrsessie.
The athletes, supported by a team of professionals and kitted by American-sports apparel Nike, have appeared at some 150 competitions all over the world and further professionalise and innovate the sport.
“This cooperation between Global Sports Communication and NN Group means a new dimension in running. Investments by sponsors NN Group and Nike offer the team the possibility of professionalising coaching, facilities, medical support, competition, equipment, scientific innovation, marketing and communication,” Global Sports Communications director Jos Hermens said in an interview.
“Basically, the elements of this revolutionary in athletes is centred on professionalising of the sport, innovation of the sport, bringing the heroes closer to fans and teamwork,” he said.
About Ratcliffe He has taken over ownership of cycling's former Team Sky Funded Ben Ainslie's 2021 America's Cup sailing challenge He owns Swiss soccer club Lausanne Sport.
It’s strange how fortunes change. While schooling and even after completing Fourth Form, world marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge loved and played volleyball with his peers.
Although Kipchoge has an unbridled love for tennis, he played volleyball during his childhood.
His age-mates at home say he enjoyed volleyball after completing Form Four at Kaptel High School in Nandi County.
Eliud Basi, who played volleyball with Kipchoge, told Standard Sports at Kapsisiywa village last week: “We grew up with Kipchoge here (Kapsisisywa).
He played volleyball like us. He did it partially while in school and after schooling when he operated his sister’s shop here. He was a good setter.” Kipchoge stands among Kenya’s top athletes who changed from other sports to athletics.
Nickson Chepseba, a former IAAF Diamond League Trophy winner, also switched from volleyball to athletics.
While a student at St Patrick’s High School Iten, Chepseba led his team to nationals in volleyball. During Rift Valley volleyball contests, he battled siblings in former world 400m hurdles champion, the late Nicholas Bett and former Africa 400m hurdles bronze medalist Haron Koech, who were students at Cheptil High School in Nandi County.
Chepseba said: “I used to admire Kenya Commercial Bank players very much. I only play volleyball at the close of the season.”
Ferguson Rotich, the newly crowned world 800m bronze medalist, was a high jumper while at Kejiriet Primary School in Kericho County. Julius Yego, the Olympic javelin silver medalist, was a football striker while a student at Kapsabet Boys High School.
Two-time world marathon winner Edna Kiplagat, who finished fourth in women’s marathon on Friday last week, says she gave up football for athletics after her games teacher advised her to try her luck in the sport.
Although she was a classmate of 2008 Chicago Marathon champions Evans Cheruiyot and 800m sensation Vincent Kemboi, she harboured little interest in athletics.
“I was a swift striker and the teacher told me to run in 1995. I represented the school up to divisional level. We had competitions running home at lunch hour and that was quite helpful,” she said.
Two-time Berlin Marathon winner Florence Kiplagat was a good footballer while a student at Sergoit Secondary School in Elgeyo Marakwet County. She competed against Edna who was at the nearby Kipsoen Secondary School. And interestingly, they have lined up in London Marathon twice.
“I never took part in athletics while in primary and secondary school. I was a football striker in the primary school's team and I even led the team to nationals at Bukhungu Stadium, Kakamega, and made the Kenyan team to the East and Central Africa Primary Schools in Kampala, Uganda.”
Other football strikers who became track stars include three-time world 3,000m steeplechase champion Moses Kiptanui (Marakwet High School), 2011 world 1,500m silver medalist Silas Kiplagat (Chebara High School) and road racer Nelson Kirwa (Kitany Boys).
Peter Vint, Performance Team Manager for the INEOS 1:59 Challenge, said an electric car is the best –and the only – way to ensure world marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge runs at the same speed for the 42.195km race.
The 34-year-old is popular for achieving a 10,000m personal best of 26:51:16 which was the fastest time run over that distance in the year 2012. A year before that, he won the Zatopek 10 race in Melbourne. He also boasts a half-marathon personal best of 60:08 which he set in winning the Azkoitia-Azpeitia Half-Marathon in 2015 in Spain.
Choge is a two-time World Indoor 3000m medalist. He is also a former 5000m Commonwealth Games champion. He won bronze in 2016 at the World Indoor Championships, four years after he had won a silver medal at the same event. In 2006, he won Gold for Kenya at the Commonwealth Games.
The 32-year-old was born in Eldoret, Kenya in 1987 and had been art of Kipchoge’s GSC training camp. Chumo has a personal best of 60:03 for a half-marathon, which he set in Lille, France in 2018. He boasts crossing the line in first place during the Corrida Pedestre International de Houilles in Paris in 2014 and winning the Pfixx Solar Montferland Run in Heerenberg, Holland three years later.
Kacheran is 27-years-old and was born in West Pokot County, Kenya. His greatest ever achievement is running a personal best at the Barcelona Marathon in 2019 to finish fourth – 2:02:12.
He is popular for winning the Lanzhou International Marathon in 2019 in 2:11:47 seconds. He finished third in the 2019 Houston Marathon and also third in the 2019 Lisbon Marathon.
The 26-year-old is recognised for being one of the pacers for the 2019 Tokyo Marathon. In 2018, he was a pacemaker for Joshua Cheptegei when he broken the 15 kilometre marathon record.
The Nandi County-born runner is part of Eliud’s NN team and boasts a marathon personal best of 2:06:51 which he set in Amsterdam in 2018. He also managed a fourth-place finish in the 2019 Barcelona Marathon.
Gideon Kipketer is 26-years-old and was born in Keiyo, Kenya. He finished second in the 2017 Tokyo Marathon with a personal best of 2:05:51. In 2016 he won the Mumbai Marathon and also finished third in the Chicago Marathon.
Kipserem was born in Nandi Central, Kenya and boast a streak of top notch performances in previous marathons. In a span of three years, he has won three marathons which include the Rotterdam Marathon in 2016, Abu Dhabi Marathon in 2018 and the Rotterdam Marathon again in 2019.
Born in Nandi County, Kenya in 1990, Eric Kiptanui has been recorded as the six-fastest man ever to cover 21 kilometers, having conquered the Berlin Half-Marathon in 2018 in record time 58:42. He also won the 2018 Lisbon Half-Marathon as well as the 2019 Barcelona Half-Marathon.
Koech is 22-years-old and was born in Mola, Kenya. His top most achievements include a third place finish in the 10 kilometre race in Durban, Fifth place finish in the 12 kilometer race in Cape Town and a second place finish in 2019 at the Poznan Half-Marathon.
22-year-old Rotich(Centre) was born in Keiyo, Kenya and has raced in Vienna before. In 2018 he finished fourth in the Vienna Marathon, as well as a third place finish in the Linz Marathon. He finished fifth in the 2018 Cape Town Marathon.
Kwemoi is pretty popular in the athletics scene. Born in Mount Elgon. Kenya in 1995, Kwemoi ran an impressive 7:28 to clinch victory in the 3000 metres men’s race at the 2017 Diamond League. He also won the One Mile prefontaine Classic in 2017 as well as managing second place finish at the Kenya World Championship Trials in 2019.
Korio was born in Trans Mara, Kenya in 1990 and is already a two-time winner of the TCS World 10 kilometres race in Bangaluru. He has also won the 2019 Beach to Beacon 10 kilometer race in Cape Town, South Africa with a personal best time of 27:34. He also boasts a personal best of 58:51 which he set during the 217 Copenhagen Marathon.
The 33-year-old Olympic Bronze medalist was born in Uasin Gishu County, Kenya. Apart from the bronze he won in the 2008 showpiece, Kogo boasts a second place finish at the 2013 Boston Marathon. His peers back at home expect to watch their keen attempt to make history.
Eliud Basi, Kipchoge’s neighbour, said: “Eliud is about to write history. And we are happy that two of the pace setters come from here. We have Marius Kipserem and Bernard Lagat of USA. We have no doubt that he will run below 1:59.”
If Kipchoge dips under two hours, the pace-setters will no doubt enter into the elite club of Kenyan stars who set pace in some of the memorable world records.
Pacemakers have always been employed by race organisers for world record attempts with specific instructions for lap times. Pace setting became prominent after Chris Brasher and Chris Chataway successfully paced Roger Bannister to break the four-minute mile for the first time in 1954.
David Kiptoo, the 1996 Olympic 400m bronze medalist, set the pace for Kenyan-born-Dane Wilson Kipketer in 800m and Noah Ng’eny in 1000m.
Kiptoo said world records are unattainable — save for 400m, 200m and 100m — in all races from 800m to marathon. That implies all the runners in the sprints can play the role of pace-setting. “Apart from 100, 200m and 400m, no one has posted world record times without pace-setters. And this explains that there is no world record without a pace-setter. I doubt if there is any,” Kiptoo said.
And pace-setting has turned out to be a money-minting venture and, at best, a career to some athletes, among them Kiptoo. “I made a successful career in pace-setting…I even earned more on it alone. In most races, I could earn more than the runner-up finisher as I was a good 800m runner, ” Kiptoo said. “You need to be focused so that after pacing, you utilise the experience and have others pace for your races. That only comes when you have the best judging skills and I believe I had it. Look at my races, I completed 200m stretch in 25 seconds and 49 seconds in 400m mark,” he said.
He says some undermine pace-setters as low class runners, “but they are not.
They must be very good.” Sammy Tangui, who was the pace-setter for David Rudisha’s 1:41.01 then a world record, says a pace-setter should be a mathematician. Peter Kirui, another career marathon pacesetter, adores his world-famed role.
“It is not tedious. It is just a matter of planning,” said Kirui, who paced top marathons last season. Daniel Kipng’etich Komen has three world records –3,000m (indoor), 3,000m (outdoor) and two miles.
Komen said: “Laban Rotich set the pace for my indoor world record, John Kosgei and David Kisang led me to the outdoor world record while Martin Keino paced the two miles world record.” Martin Keino set the pace for seven world records - Daniel Komen (two miles and 5,000m), Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele (outdoor and indoor 5,000m as well as 10,000m), Haile Gebrselassie (5,000m and 10,000m).
PHILOSOPHY: “Be able at any moment to sacrifice what you are for what you will become.”
PERSONAL GOAL: To further optimize Eliud’s metabolism so he will physically be able to execute the INEOS 1:59 challenge.
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: To execute the drinking plan with Eliud running at such a high average speed. Furthermore, the fact the event date is not fixed presents challenges. Any delay will challenge the optimal metabolic preparation.
PERSONAL CONNECTION: Determination, sacrifices, focus and 100 per cent commitment are key elements in such a project. I personally strongly identify with these elements so that’s the reason I’m fully committed to Eliud. Armand Bettonviel studied physiology, exercise and nutrition at Stirling University. His academic interest and expertise is in the exercise biochemistry and translating this knowledge into nutritional strategies for elite athletes.
Valentijn Trouw (Athlete Manager)
PHILOSOPHY:“A pyramid you build from the base to the top.”
PERSONAL GOAL: To create positive energy by setting an example to think in possibilities rather than in obstacles
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: To stay focussed on key areas and not get carried away by side issues
PERSONAL CONNECTION: To help to bring the real Eliud Kipchoge coming forward, both as an athlete and as a human being, and in doing so to enable him to inspire others Valentijn Trouw started working for Global Sports Communication (GSC) in 2003 as an Athlete Representative and Elite Athlete Coordinator and now has a senior role within the company as Athlete Manager.
Valentijn has helped to build the careers of Olympic and World Championships medalists Eliud Kipchoge, Tsegaye Kebede, Faith Kipyegon and Geoffrey Kamworor among others. The main focus of his job is to build and then guide a strong team of professionals around an individual athlete to help them perform to the best of their ability.
Patrick Sang (Lead Coach)
PHILOSOPHY: “Trust is everything”
PERSONAL GOAL: To see Eliud run under two hours in Vienna.
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: The biggest challenge is the things that you are unable to control.
PERSONAL CONNECTION: I have been the coach of Eliud since 2002 although now I say that is me who is the student and Eliud the coach. Patrick Sang is Eliud Kipchoge’s coach and before that was an Olympic medal-winning athlete himself.
Sang was born in Kenya and won a track scholarship to the USA where he attended the University of Texas and Iowa State University. Sang went on to represent Kenya and won three silver medals in the 3000m steeplechase at global championships: the 1991 and 1993 World Championships and the 1992 Olympics. Sang started coaching in 1995, three years before he retired from competing himself.
He met Kipchoge in 2001 and became his coach in 2002, helping him to a World Championships gold medal in the 5000m a year later. He has been with Kipchoge ever since through his success on the track right up to his Olympic gold medal and world record in the marathon. Sang has also coached a host of Olympic and World Champions including Bernard Barmasai, Richard Limo, Ruben Kosgei, Brimin Kipruto, Hyvin Kiyeng and Geoffrey Kamworor.
Jos Hermens (GSC CEO)
PHILOSOPHY: “What you reap is what you sow”
PERSONAL GOAL: To see a sub two-hour marathon.
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: To get all the details ready in the right moment and the right place.
PERSONAL CONNECTION: have had the honour of working with Eliud and his coach Patrick Sang since 2001. Since I broke the one hour world record with 13,01 miles (20.944m), I am fascinated by one hour and two hour running events.
I worked with Haile Gebrselassie when, in 2008, he smashed the marathon world record and became the first athlete to break the 2:04 barrier. Since that moment I wondered whether it was possible to run a sub two-hour marathon. I am convinced Eliud is the man who can.
Jos Hermens is a former athlete who is now the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Global Sports Communication (GSC.) Jos won the Dutch Sportsman of the Year title in 1975 and 1976 and improved the one hour record twice. He retired aged 28 due to injuries and in 1985 started his own company, Sports Communication Services, later to become GSC. This company helps athletes with coaching, competitions, sponsorship, medical care, marketing and PR.
Peter Vergouwen (Physician)
PHILOSOPHY: “Think different; never give up.”
PERSONAL GOAL: To contribute to and advise on the development and improvement of all physical and mental attributes Eliud will need to complete the INEOS 1:59 Challenge.
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: The biggest challenge is to keep Eliud healthy, injury-free and in top fitness throughout the whole preparation period and to ensure recovery and body care are just as important as training.
PERSONAL CONNECTION: From the start of my physical education and sports medical career I have been fascinated by people and elite athletes, who want to break through barriers in their own lives and careers. Pushing boundaries is an ultimate challenge for everyone who wants to achieve something with their own life as Eliud says, No Human is Limited.
Peter Vergouwen started his career as a PE teacher, then became a sports medical doctor and then, as a sports physician, managed to create an ideal combination of both jobs. Since 2003, Peter has worked for the Department of Elite Sports Medicine in Hospital in the Netherlands, next to the national sports centre, Papendal.
Peter Nduhiu (Physiotherapist)
PHILOSOPHY: “Just follow your passion”
PERSONAL GOAL: To make sure we support Eliud to achieve his goal and his dream to be the first human being to run under two hours for the marathon.
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: For me the biggest is challenge is to keep Eliud healthy, but I am very confident about that.
PERSONAL CONNECTION: The fact that I am the main physiotherapist and that I have to carry through Eliud’s dream of running 1.59.
Peter Nduhui is Eliud Kipchoge’s physiotherapist, working full-time at the Global Sports Communication (GSC) camp in Kaptagat.
After studying in Havana, Cuba, he came back to Kenya and started working in Kenyata National Hospital in Nairobi as a General Practioner.
Nduhiu joined Athletics Kenya in 1998 and in 2003, while working with the Kenyan team preparing for the 2004 Olympic Games, he first met Eliud Kipchoge, starting a relationship both with the athlete and GSC. Nduhiu has attended Olympic Games and World Championships with the Kenyan team.
No human is limited.
When I'm on the starting line, my mind starts reviewing what I have been doing the last five months. I believe in my training, and I treat myself as the best one standing on that line.
To give anything less than our best is to sacrifice the gift
Only the disciplined ones are free in life. If you are undisciplined, you are a slave to your moods. You are a slave to your passions.
In life, the idea is to be happy. So, I believe in calm, simple, low-profile life. You live simple, you train hard and live an honest life. Then you are free.