The controversial "Kipchoge case" shows that a marathon can be run in less than two hours, the question whether we can repeat it without help

Two years ago, Kenyan athlete Eliud Kipchoge attempted to complete the 42-kilometer and 195-meter marathon in less than two hours. Those 120 minutes are, without a doubt, the mark. They constitute a physical and mental limit that, for years, has served as an aspiration for athletes from all over the world.

In 2017, Kipchoge came within 24 seconds. This weekend, he has succeeded. However, what was destined to become a historic milestone has been clouded by controversy. The athlete has used four key 'aids' that turn the feat into a mere marketing campaign.

So the issue is still on the table, can the human being beat the brand of contemporary athletic brands?

The four advantages of Kipchoge

As I said, the irregularities of the race will make the record (1:59:40) not be recognized by the International Athletics Federation. For example, IAAF regulations require that there be real competition. Specifically, to recognize a brand, three participants are needed and this is not the case. Kipchoge only competed with the clock.

That does not mean that he was alone. A group of 41 athletes ("hares" in slang) have trained with Kipchoge for months. Turning into groups of seven people, the hares have run with him helping him keep pace and helping him when necessary (cutting the air against, for example).

He was also accompanied by a car that was giving him information such as the time (laser projected onto the track); track that, last but not least, has not been properly audited to ensure its length. But perhaps what has been most talked about is the technological "advantage": the shoes.

Successive generations of Nike Vaporfly sneakers have caused quite a stir in the world. This shoe uses various technologies to offer a great return of energy to the athlete without compromising stability. Theoretically, the vaporflies that Kipchoge used are capable of 'returning' up to 4% of extra energy to the runner. The IAAF has yet to speak out on this technology.

When can we get off the two hours without help?

It is important to note that Kipchoge's feat, even with help, is truly worthy of admiration. A physical and mental feat. But, of course, that leaves a question on the table: can we ever break the two-hour mark?

There are many things to keep in mind when answering that question. But curiously, in July 2019, a researcher from Monash University decided to answer that question with a very interesting approach: statistically. He analyzed how runners had progressed in recent years and dared to make a prediction.

“The possibility of breaking the two-hour mark in a marathon has attracted increasing interest in recent times. [...] However, a 13-year wait seems more in line with the evidence, "Angus said in a statement. That is, according to their accounts, we speak of May 2032 as the most likely date on which the brand will be beaten in an official competition.

However, Angus' conclusions are not a chant to "anything is possible". From his point of view, and always according to the data he manages, the maximum record for men will be 1:58:05 and for women, at 2:05:31. There is no doubt that it is a very risky prediction and it is not convenient to pay too much attention to it, but it is the best answer we have to the question at hand and it deserves to be taken into account.

Above all, because it implies that, sooner or later, we will succeed. And in sport, irrational beliefs also have a role.

Images | INEOS 1:59 Challenge

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