Kenyan Marathoner Eliud Kipchoge Finishes Course In Under Two Hours

Race sets unheard-of time, but won’t be considered a world record

Eliud Kipchoge
Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge poses for photographers prior to his press conference in Vienna on October 10, 2019, prior to his attempt to break the two-hour barrier on the October 12, 2019 marathon in Vienna.
(Photo by ALEX HALADA / AFP) Photo by ALEX HALADA/AFP via Getty Images

Certain feats of athletic accomplishment have long seemed impossible to achieve. Among them? Running a marathon in under two hours. Don’t tell that to Kenyan runner Eliud Kipchoge, though: this morning in Vienna, he ran a 26.2-mile course in an utterly staggering amount of time — namely, 1 hour, 59 minutes and 40 seconds. That’s 10 seconds faster than the time Kipchoge had hoped to set, incidentally.

As The New York TImes explains in their article on the race, Kipchoge’s landmark achievement stands as a fantastic feat, but won’t go in the record books. Why, exactly? 

The eye-popping time, which was 10 seconds quicker than the 1:59:50 time Kipchoge and his team had set out to achieve, will not be officially recognized as a world record because it was not run under open marathon conditions and because it featured a dense rotation of professional pacesetters.

Kipchoge’s athletic career began with shorter races, which led to medals in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. In 2012, he began competing in longer distances, beginning with half marathons. Since then he’s chalked up wins in the Berlin Marathon and London Marathon, as well as a gold medal in the 2016 Olympics.

All in all, it’s an absolutely fantastic feat from one of the world’s greatest runners — and an impressive example of someone daring to do what had previously been unimaginable.

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