Eliud Kipchoge Breaks Two-Hour Marathon Barrier

Kenyan long-distance runner Eliud Kipchoge has earned his place in history after shattering the two-hour marathon barrier early Saturday morning in Vienna, Austria.

Kipchoge became the first marathon runner to break the two-hour barrier, running 26.2 miles in 1 hour, 59 minutes, 40.2 seconds, during the INEOS 1:59 Challenge. The event was specifically designed for Kipchoge’s record-breaking feat. The course aimed to maximize speed, and Kipchoge had the help of 41 pacesetters.

Running the full marathon (26.2 miles) in under 2 hours translates to an average of 100 meters every 17 seconds, 422 times in a row.

“This shows no one is limited. Now I’ve done it, I am expecting more people to do it after me.”

Kipchoge told the BBC that it was the best moment of his life, with a lot of pressure on his shoulders. He received a call from Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta afterwards.

“Hearty congratulations, Eliud Kipchoge,” Kenyatta said in a statement. “You’ve done it, you’ve made history and made Kenya proud. Your win today will inspire future generations to dream big and aspire to greatness. We celebrate you and wish you God’s blessings.”

The feat won’t count as an official world record by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) because of the conditions and the help of pacesetters. This event was more for the purpose of breaking the two-hour mark than setting the world record — which Kipchoge already holds. The 34-year-old ran the Berlin Marathon in 2:01:39 last year and then ran it in 2:02:37 in April, the two fastest official marathon runs in history.

The two-hour mark, considered the “last great barrier” in running after Roger Bannister ran a mile in under four minutes in 1954, requires a 4:34 mile pace or better. Kipchoge came in at 4:33.5 minutes per mile. Kipchoge compared the feat to going to the moon.

“I am feeling good. After Roger Bannister it took another 65 years to make history,” he said. “Now I’ve gone under two hours to inspire other people and show the world nobody is limited.”