Marathon World Record & the failed 2 Hour Project

Eliud Kipchoge won the Berlin Marathon this morning in a time of 2:01:39  -   78 seconds faster than Kimetto’s previous record mark of 2:02:57.

Eliud Kipchoge won the Berlin Marathon this morning in a time of 2:01:39 - 78 seconds faster than Kimetto’s previous record mark of 2:02:57.

Coach Spot made 2 outrageous claims after the failed attempt at breaking the 2 hour marathon:
1. The world record should be 2:01 – 2:02.
2. Bad pacing wrecked the first 2 hour project!
Now that one of his claims has come true, let’s see if his second claim of the sub 2 hour marathon suceeding is realised! In light of this improved time maybe they don’t even need a pace car to help them cheat!

NOTE - this morning Coach Spot was mumbling something about “I shoulda published this last year & I would have been a genius today”….

Why they didn't break the 2 hour barrier & why they will & should...

1. The men's world marathon record is not where it should be & from my comparisons from 1969 (when Australia held the 5000m, 10000m & marathon world records) you can see I estimate it should be between 2:01:26 & 2:02:24. Most experts now recognise the Kipchoge is capable of a 2:02:00 on a legitimate course if he had raced the recent world class events. 

- Kenenisa Bekele & Haile Gebrselassie left track running & started marathons PAST their prime yet still have either broken world records or Top 5 all time runs - imagine what they would have done at their best!

World Record predictor marathon.JPG

As for Kipchoge himself, he was a teen phenomenon who aged 18 won the 2003 5000 metres World Championships out-kicking 2 of the greatest track runners of all time - Kenenisa Bekele & Hicham El Guerrouj. If anything despite a great track career (silver & bronze in the Olympics) I think he potentially under-achieved or at worst simply fell into the shadows of other legendary runners such as Bekele! Unlike many of the modern day Africans that head to the marathon early in their careers he persevered on the track until 2012. It could be argued he was a pure marathoner like the great Paula Radcliffe - her incredible 2:15:25 is by someone who left track at the top of her game & she actually PBed over 5000 metres 2004 after breaking the 2003 world record in marathon.

2. That car & the pacemaker shielding the runners: scientifically agreed 90 seconds even though I put it at more! Sure it's not cycling but put a runner 5 metres +/- shielded behind a car with a suspiciously high pace clock & bunch of pace makers directly in front of you/ around you & there has to be a massive assistance. They even get drinks for you so you don't have to slow down during teh event! Initially based on my 30 years cycling/ running competing/ coaching experience but no specific science I put this advantage at 2 minutes +/-. However I'm more than happy to go with the 90 seconds scientifically worked out in this article here

3. Pacing & strategy: by running at an even pace which includes no slowing for fuel/ drinks would save 90 seconds. Newton's famous 3rd law "For every action there is an equal & opposite reaction" This is universal & spares no-one! Marathon running including many of the world leading times & even world records has a history of surging for short periods during the run - make no mistake there is always a cost of this happening. Take this problem away by running at even pace & the world is your oyster! By simply running at a more even pace the world record would 100% be faster than 2:02:30.

- Anyone who knows me or has been coached me understands my frustration of why people in general (but sometimes right up to Olympic Championship level) have an inability to correctly pace themselves! 

- The greatest runner himself Haile Gebrselassie fell victim to this when in 2008 in a world record attempt the pace makers inexplicably ran the first half in 1:01:27 & he crawled home in 1:03:26. His time of 2:04:53 meant no world record or $1 million bonus. Interestingly Gebrselassie was still 25 seconds ahead of world record at 35km yet missed it by 27 seconds (that's 53 seconds lost over 7km). Kipchoge lost 19 seconds over the last 7km & this matches up pretty well with Gebrselassie's 53 second loss over the last 7km when you consider how aggressive Gebrselassie was in the first 10km back in 2008. 

4. The goal 5km split was 14:13 yet the split for the second 5kms was 14:07 = this killed the project! Who was driving the Tesla? Was it an incognito Adidas Athlete? That second 5km destroyed the project! Interestingly & unbeknown to me the expert Ross Tucker thinks he paced himself correctly & dismisses this change of speed in his analysis "You’ll see that the pacing was remarkably good, which is not surprising considering it was set by a car going at the desired speed. The variation in pace between 5km segments is just about zero, with the exception of the second five-kilometres, where they sped up to 2:49/km.  That’s a little too fast, but it’s hard to be picky when the margin is 1s/km either way."

2 hour marathon pacing chart.JPG

5. Incredible effort & applause to Nike for holding such a cool event. Apparently, they now sell shoes that would beat the world record but haven't done so yet (go figure). - 1/3 of athletes go into major races over-cooked from their training! This race was no different & the first to drop off the pace was Lelisa Desisa at 16kms (yes that early). The fact that someone is a faster runner doesn't mean they don't make rookie errors! What a mighty effort to hang on & run 2:14:10. Same for Zersenay Tadese who slowed at 21km..... yet still ran2:06:51 A MASSIVE Kudos to Breaking2 project for making the athletes finish what they started - it must have hurt beyond belief!

Breaking2 finish photo.JPG