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14th August 2019

"Breaking the two-hour marathon barrier would be like man landing on the moon"

Eliud Kipchoge believes breaking the two-hour barrier for the marathon in the INEOS 1:59 Challenge would be an achievement to rank alongside man landing on the moon.

Speaking to media two months before he takes on the epic challenge to become the first man to run a sub-two hour marathon, Kipchoge said he has no doubts that he will make history in Vienna in October.

“Some people believe it is impossible,” Kipchoge said. “I respect their views, they should respect mine. My team and I believe it is possible. We will prove them wrong.”

The Kenyan legend is not daunted by a feat that many thought impossible. The Prater, the huge Viennese park close to the Danube, will be the venue for the INEOS 1:59 Challenge with a window from October 12 until October 20, earmarked for the attempt to take place. The exact date of the challenge will be decided nearer the time when an accurate weather forecast is available.

Kipchoge attempted the task before in 2017 at the famous motor racing circuit of Monza in Italy. He missed by just 26 seconds. But that has given him the confidence to try again.

“I was like a boxer who is going in the ring and doesn’t know what will happen,” he said of his first attempt two years’ ago. “But this time I am prepared, and I know what will happen.”

The 34-year-old has won Olympic and World Championship gold medals and his eight World Marathon Major Marathon successes include four victories in London. He also holds the world record – 2:01:39, set in Berlin in 2018. But Kipchoge told reporters that completing the INEOS 1:59 Challenge would mean much more to him than any of his previous glories.

“It’s more important,” he said. “This is about history and making a mark in sport. It’s like the first man to go to the moon, I will be the first man to run under two hours, this is crucial.

“I’m really excited I’m really looking forward to this historic day.”

Kipchoge was speaking from his training base in Kaptagat, Kenya where he has been preparing for the INEOS 1:59 Challenge in much the same as for any other marathon.

Eliud Kipchoge training with his team-mates in Kaptagat, Kenya. Credit: Dan Vernon

"This is about history and making a mark in sport. It’s like the first man to go to the moon, I will be the first man to run under two hours, this is crucial"

“Nothing much has changed, the training is the same,” Kipchoge said. “What has changed is the mental preparation, I have a free mind and am ready to go. I’m really enjoying the experience.

“My training is simple. I trust in my coaching system, I trust in my team and that is what makes my mind strong. I can’t lie to myself if I am going to be successful.”

Kipchoge believes he has learnt lessons from his first attempt at a sub two-hour marathon in Monza and said that the Vienna course - with its long, straight stretches of the Hauptallee – will give him every chance of breaking the two-hour barrier.

He said: “Monza was a big, big successful event and I enjoyed the experience. Vienna is a very flat and low course and that makes a difference. Being straight course can help me to run at a comfortable pace in a comfortable time.”

Another change from the Italian challenge was that fans will be allowed to line the route in Vienna.

“The fans will have a big impact,” he said.

Kipchoge revealed he first discussed going under two hours with his management team in late 2016 and said that it was not until quite late in the previous attempt that he knew he would not achieve his target. “I realised with 1km to go that I was a bit slow, I tried to adjust but it wasn’t possible,” he said of Breaking2.

Two months out from his latest attempt, he says things could not be going better.

“I’m really very prepared,” he said. “I have visualised it. I have put it in my heart and my mind that I will break the two-hour barrier.

“When I am running I am trying my best to focus and have my mind on my running and my time.”

In camp, all focus is on getting his body and mind in shape. He wakes every morning at about 5am, has two training sessions per day, the rest of the time is made up with eating, relaxing and sleeping. He is running 200km. He fills his time with reading and has just finished a book on the life of Muhammad Ali.

“I am a simple person, I try to stay calm and focus on what I do,” he said. “There are no distractions. I am just concentrating on the INEOS 1:59 Challenge.

“My training camp is as simple as any other training camp. I expect to be in Vienna a week before. I want to run on the course, see how the course is.

“I get nervous before a big day, I try to calm myself down, I try to concentrate, I try to relax.”

When Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile in 1954, he did not hold onto the record for long and Kipchoge expects that if he achieves his goal, it will not be long before others try to beat it.

“After doing it, many athletes will believe for themselves that it is possible,” he said. “I don’t know what time is the limit, I don’t have any limits. But my target is 1:59.

“I don’t know if I am at my peak now, but I am at the right age to make history. I don’t think I am different. I am trying my best to live a modest life.

“This is about history, it’s about leaving a legacy. It’s about inspiring people. It will mean a lot when I run under two hours. My main message to the 7.5 billion people in the world is that no human is limited.”

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