Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge has made history in breaking the two-hour barrier for the marathon. This represents a splendid breakthrough for human endeavour. Man’s eternal quest to go faster, reach higher and get stronger has just found another great moment to celebrate. This was the equivalent of Roger Bannister breaking the four-minute barrier for the mile in 1954 and Jim Hines running 100 metres in 9.95 seconds in 1968. Each of these achievements highlighted man’s indomitable spirit in aiming eternally for improvement.
Breaking the marathon barrier is the ultimate athletic performance, considering Kipchoge’s speed has been calculated to be the equivalent of sustaining his run at 21 km per hour over the entire 26 miles and 385 yards, this modern marathon distance being a little more than the proverbial road from Marathon to Athens covered by an ancient Greek who wanted to convey the news of a military victory over the Persians in 490 BCE.
The last time the Kenyan runner, Kipchoge, lost a race was almost six years ago. His Saturday landmark time of 1:59:40.2 (the official world record is 2:01:39 by Kipchoge in Berlin 2018) would, however, not get into the record books since this run in Vienna on Saturday was more of an experiment with 41 pacemakers running in an arrow formation behind a car to protect Kipchoge from the wind. He was wearing the Nike Vaporfly shoes with a curved plate allowing his feet to glide without toe movement hampering momentum.
The harnessing of science and technology helped him break the barrier. But then that is the essence of modern man whose advantage over his predecessors is the application of evolving technology. The sheer joy of thousands of Kenyans who turned up on roads to watch on giant screens was also something to behold. “In breaking the two-hour barrier, I want to open minds to think that no human is limited,” Kipchoge quite aptly said.