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23rd August 2019

Jos Hermens on the INEOS 1:59 Challenge

Jos Hermens is the CEO of Global Sports Communication (GSC), the management agency that looks after some of the world’s best athletes including Eliud Kipchoge. Prior to managing athletes, Hermens was a world-class athlete himself. He was a finalist in the 10,000m at the 1976 Olympics and held the world record for the hour run in the same year.

I am 69 years old now and I have done and seen a lot in athletics. I have set world records myself when I was running, athletes from Global Sports Communication (GSC) – the company I set up – have broken 75 world records including Eliud’s marathon world record set in Berlin last year.

But this really is something special and, at 69, this is probably the last thing like this for me to be part of.

A hero can be created here, one of the great performances of the 21st century. For a human being in 2019 to run under two hours for a marathon would be phenomenal. And it is exactly the sort of story athletics needs.

Running is my life. I love it and I have been involved in the sport since I was 12 years old.

But the sport desperately needs heroes, superstars, iconic moments and this would be one. It is my hope that from here we can build the sport up and see it grow once again.

I think there is no better time for Eliud to do this than now. He is getting better and better and we knew that this was a big objective for him. But we knew there would be a short window because of the Olympics in Tokyo next year.

Tokyo is going to be very hot and humid and take a lot out of all the athletes running the marathon so we knew an attempt to break two hours had to be done before that while Eliud is in the best shape of his life.

We have to thank INEOS and Jim Ratcliffe for this opportunity and for bringing together a world class team of experts from across different fields and the wider INEOS sports group who are all working together to make this the golden opportunity for Eliud to fulfil his dream. Let’s be honest, without INEOS we could never do this. Running may not be the most expensive and complicated sport but to achieve something like this you need expertise from across different fields and financial backing and INEOS coming in has been fantastic. It really is a dream for us that that somebody like Jim comes in with his vision because without him and his vision Eliud would not get this chance.

And I believe Eliud will take this chance and make history.

He is an incredible human being and runner. If you were to make a prototype of a long distance runner it would be him. He has the perfect running style and physiological make-up for a marathon runner but the perfect mentality, too. It is that strength of mind that is his biggest strength. He was always talented but in the last five to 10 years he has developed an enormous mental strength that I have never seen in another athlete. 

I know how painful, how difficult running a sub two-hour marathon will be. In 1976, I ran a world record for one hour on the track. I ran 20,944 metres; and Eliud is doing that twice and a little bit more - it is mind boggling.

Funnily enough, two years after I set the hour record I helped in another world record, this one was set by a Kenyan in Vienna, just a stone’s throw from the course where Eliud will run in October. I ran the first 6000m to help Henry Rono break the 10,000m record on the track in The Prater. It is funny how life throws things like this at you. Hopefully we will return to Vienna and Eliud will become the first ever person to run a marathon in under two hours.

And I really believe he can do it. He's mentally prepared, his training is better than ever, and we have learned from our experiences in Monza. So personally I have no doubt. It’s a big claim, but I'm quite sure he can do it. 

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