It was a race that global sports enthusiasts awaited with anxiety.
And marathon superstar Eliud Kipchoge did exactly what they expected of him.
In a supreme exhibition of top form on May 6, he set the historic 2:00.25 42km all-time at Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Italy –that’s two minutes and 32 seconds faster than the official world record mark of 2:02.57 held by Kenya’s Dennis Kimetto.
The race, dubbed Breaking2 run, had interchangeable pacemakers and on-demand drinks delivery unlike in usual marathons where water points are located at 5km intervals.
This violated IAAF regulations and thus Kipchoge’s run did not become an official world record.
Kipchoge, who won London Marathon in 2:03.05 last year, said: “The race was good. It went as planned. There was no much difference preparing for Breaking2 race and the other World Marathon Majors races.
“The only difference is what you think when you accept the Breaking2 Project.
“In the two races, you need to train well, but Breaking2 demands a lot of courage because you compete largely against the clock. It’s you against time,” Kipchoge told Standard Sports yesterday.
Kipchoge, Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa and Zersenary Tadese of Eritrea were kitted with special attires.
“I noticed the difference when competing with our usual kits. The designs were light and absorbed moisture easily. They were friendly to the skin and helped a lot as it has no interference. Drops of sweat were quite minimal.
“The electric car that drove some metres in front of us helped, but not so much since the race needed one to be in top form,” he said.
His training mates at Global Sports Communications in Kaptagat that included Philemon Rono, Laban Korir, Nicholas Rotich, Gideon Kipketer and America’s Bernard Lagat were among the pace makers, who ran in a triangular formation.
“The V-shaped formation helps a lot in wind divergence but it can’t push you,” he said.
Kipchoge started off with fast splits, hitting 5km in 14:07 and 10km in 28:21, but later recorded not varying splits with one of 2.4 in 6:44 and then 6:37.
He crossed 30km in 1:25.20 on a pace for 2:00.01 and ran 14:17 from 30km to 35km for 1:39.37 in what saw him finish the race 26 seconds shy of the 1:59:59 target.
“From 38km, I was a bit tired. But I had to fight hard to meet my target. I am happy with the performance.
“I think it’s possible for a human being to run under 2:00 mark. I am happy to have run 2:00 in marathon. My mind was fully under 2:00 but on the last two laps, I was a little — 10 seconds — behind schedule and the last lap I was a little behind schedule. The journey all along to this far has been good. It has been hard. It has taken seven good months of preparation, of dedication and of everything. I’m happy to have done that.
“I strongly believe that courage, mental and physical strength help in marathon. My coach Patrick Sang (the 1992 Olympic 3,000m steeplechase silver medalist) drafted the training programme for me,” said Kipchoge.
Did he change diet in preparations? “No. I continued with my usual diet. I have stuck with traditional foods — ugali, traditional vegetables and milk — for long. This is what I was weaned with,” said Kipchoge.
He comes from Kapsisywo Village in Nandi County with his coach Sang while America’s Bernard Lagat was born and bred in the adjacent Kaptel Village.
University of Eldoret track for speed work: 1,000m intervals for 15 times (15km)
Gym in the afternoon
Kaptagat Forest for long run: 40km
Gym in the afternoon