Eliud Kipchoge and a marathon whose audacity will live long in our memory | Kevin Malik

The Guardian

The Guardian

Author 2019-10-13 12:00:06

Eliud Kipchoge crosses the finish line in first-ever sub two-hour marathon – video

Some sporting moments achieve mythical status because of their sheer audacity. Muhammad Ali’s “rumble in the jungle” defeat of George Foreman in Kinshasa in 1974 to regain his world heavyweight title comes to mind.

Eliud Kipchoge shatters two-hour barrier to crash into the mainstream

Others astound with a seemingly impossible perfection such as Nadia Comăneci’s perfect 10 in gymnastics at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games.

And then there are those that astonish by redefining one’s perception of what it’s possible for a human being to achieve.

Eliud Kipchoge’s completion of a marathon in under two hours was one of those moments. Not so long ago, just the possibility of breaking the two-hour mark seemed beyond imagination. On Saturday, we were witness to that something beyond imagination.

Kipchoge’s time is not an official record as it was not performed under competition conditions. That does not matter. All that matters is that he did it.

It was the equivalent of running 422 100m sprints one after the other, every one of them in 17.08 seconds. One can barely comprehend the willpower required. Or the self-belief. Or the imagination. And yet one can, because it is a human achievement.

'Anything is possible': Eliud Kipchoge on his sub-two hour marathon record – video

When Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile in 1954, it seemed just as miraculous. Forty-six days later, the Australian runner John Landy did it again. And since then, at least 1,400 people have run the mile in under four minutes.

Someone – probably Kipchoge himself – will break the two-hour marathon mark officially in competition. Someone will run faster than 1:59:40. But nothing will make his feat any less special. It is for such moments that we treasure sport. And it is in such moments that we marvel at human possibilities. As Kipchoge tweeted before his run: “I don’t know what the limits are, but I would like to go there.”

• Kevin Malik is an Observer columnist

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