Is a sub-two-hour marathon possible?

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Ever since Roger Bannister broke the famed four-minute-mile in 1954, runners have been dreaming about a sub-two-hour marathon. The current marathon record is 2:02:57, set by Kenyan Dennis Kimetto at the Berlin Marathon in 2014. Is it humanly possible to break two hours? A team of East African runners thinks so.

Nike’s Breaking2 team consists of Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya, Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia, and Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea. Nike’s scientists and developers have been working on specialized racing shoes and apparel for a historic attempt at the sub-two marathon that is set to take place this spring.

The sub-two-hour marathon will not be part of any major marathon but will be run on a Formula One racing track. The runners will follow a Tesla electric car that will have a clock showing elapsed time, splits, and projected finish time on the back of the car.

Team Breaking2 recently attempted a test run where all three runners ran a half-marathon on the Formula One course. Two of the three athletes went under one hour for the 13.1 miles, with Kipchoge running 59:17 and Tadese in 59:41, Desisa fell behind to finish in 62:55. In order to break the two-hour barrier, these men are going to have to put together two back-to-back sub-60-minute half marathons, which is about 4:34 per mile for 26 miles.

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