Eliud Kipchoge just misses breaking 2-hour barrier in marathon

Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya came very close to running a marathon in under two hours on Saturday.

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Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya came very close to running a marathon in under two hours on Saturday.

On May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister became the first runner to break the four-minute mile. Sixty-three years later to the day, Kenyan runner Eliud Kipchoge came tantalizingly close to breaking the two-hour barrier in the marathon on Saturday.

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Kipchoge, 32, the 2016 Olympic champion and the 2016 winner of the London Marathon, covered the 26.2-mile course in 2 hours, 26 seconds, ESPN and The Associated Press reported.

Organizers first listed his time at 2:00.24, then changed it to 26 seconds off the 2-hour mark, according to the AP.

It still topped Dennis Kimetto's world record of 2:02.57, set by the Kenyan in 2014 at the Berlin Marathon. Kipchoge's attempt at the 1.49-mile Monza Formula One race course probably will not be an official world record as sanctioned by the IAAF, which ratifies all marathons. Variables like pacers entering midrace and drinks given to runners via moped were reasons why the record won't be recognized as official, ESPN reported.

Kipchoge was running in Nike's "Breaking2" project and was joined by world-class runners Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia and Zersany Tadese of Eritrea on the Monza track, CNN reported. It was a departure from normal marathon races, where runners jockey for position against thousands of competitors and must navigate through hilly sections.

"We believe that once a sub-two-hour marathon is done, the records will fall at traditional marathons after that," Brad Wilkins, the director of NXT Generation Research in the Nike Sport Research Lab, told CNN before the race. "People will run faster and faster, similar to when Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile."

David Bedford, a former British distance runner from the 1970s who held the 10,000-meter world record, was skeptical about the race.

"I think we may have to take the result with a pinch of salt, he told CNN before the race. “I think we need to accept it as it is. I believe it is a good marketing idea, and I think the results may give us some indication of the kind of help athletes might need. But the performance itself must adhere to the conditions around world records, or it's meaningless.”

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