Watch National Geographic’s one-hour special on Eliud Kipchoge and Nike’s quest to break the two-hour barrier in the marathon.
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Watch National Geographic’s one-hour special on Eliud Kipchoge and Nike’s quest to break the two-hour barrier in the marathon.
Chris Derrick sits down with his pal and Citius Mag writer Scott Olberding to reflect on his pacing duties with Eliud Kipchoge in Monza, Italy and more.
If you’ve been to CITIUS MAG in the past week, you saw us making quite a stink over Nike’s #Breaking2 attempt. As much as we’d love to say we were doing it because Nike was handing us fistfuls of cash under the table, that would be a lie. Did we really believe it was going to happen? Perhaps. But mostly we just thought it was a very silly idea and it was brilliant fodder for a week’s worth of content.
All of us can agree on a few things that #Breaking2 was: an enormous marketing stunt, a stellar branding initiative, and a whole lot of hype. Despite all of that, by the time Eliud Kipchoge crossed the finish line 26 seconds behind the timing-laser wielding electronic car, you (both the royal “you” and you in particular), would be a fool to say that the event wasn’t important, a bit existential, and something we won’t see again in the near future.
The importance of the event is undeniable. Broken down to its core, the attempt was about peak human performance. We can wax poetic all day long about doing what’s never been done, or breaking the unbreakable barrier.
But for me, after it became apparent he might do the damn thing, it was about recognizing the few moments in humanity’s miserable history where we can point to a specific spot on our timeline and say “this was the day we saw the greatest a human ever was at distance running.” It was never about the barrier. It was always about finding the limits of the human machine, and we can safely say that Kipchoge, Zersenay Tadese, and Lelisa Desisa were given every opportunity to do it.
For 99% of the population, your life’s work is intangible, judged by the day to day, and how you live your life. Our cultural obsession with sports is likely driven somewhat by being able to wrap our minds around a singular, tangible goal. There’s nothing as tangible in sports, other than maybe powerlifting, than what Kipchoge did on Saturday.
You can commute to your office everyday, but no matter how undeniable you are at creating beautiful pivot tables or writing immaculate lines of code, no one will ever really know (or try to know) if what you did in your beige cubicle that day was taking it to the limit in terms of what a human could do to an excel doc. Sports give us a definitive goal to aspire towards, and the pursuit of running as fast as you can, for as long as you can leaves very little wiggle room for any other argument against greatness.
Though Nike is worth billions and billions of dollars it’s not likely we’ll see them stage something like this again. They’re instead opting to focus on other “moonshots.” Maybe they can take some cues from Citius.
In regular circumstances–regular meaning without advanced robotics, waves of pacers, springy shoes, Kevin Hart, etc–we’re a long ways from breaking two. Going to the well the way Kipchoge did is ill-advised racing tactics, and many times the stakes are seemingly higher; things like Olympic medals or large, novelty checks always need to be considered. And how many more performances like that do you think a person has in them? Thinking about the aftermath of Kipchoge’s run brings out the old timey doctor in me: if he attempts it again I’m sure he’d contract a type of flu he’s likely not shake the rest of his life, if it doesn’t kill him first.
So here we are, on the other side of an honest crack at the two hour marathon. What did we learn? Well, mostly that humanity will always stop and recognize humanity. The pursuit of self-actualization is evolving, and relative. But not with this. The sub-two hour attempt was humanity’s attempt at self-actualization. If you were like me, over the last five miles of Kipchoge’s miracle run, your chest tightened, and you stared at your phone in disbelief, as a man thundered along faster than any other man had done before him, for the sole reason of showing us what was possible. It was stupid. It was kind of pointless. But god damn if it wasn’t a thing of beauty.
Prolific provocateur Banksy is at it again, and this time, Nike’s Breaking2 project is on the receiving end of his can of spray paint and mighty wit.
Eliud Kipchoge is the world’s greatest marathoner as he clocked a 2:00:25 in Nike’s attempt to break the two hour barrier for the 26.2 mile distance.
somethin\' goofed with our twitter plug-in :/
IAAF and USATF course measurement extraordinaire David Katz explains just how accurate the Breaking2 course will be in a public Facebook post
Well, we did it again: we gathered the brightest minds at Citius HQ to come up with some betting lines for Breaking2. It should be noted that none of us are privy to the subtle intricacies of setting a betting line, so we apologize in advance.
Which previously undisclosed bit of technology will Nike unveil mid-time trial as its trump card?
Chris Derrick’s preferred interjection while the pacers are receiving their final instructions:
What actually happens during the Breaking2 experiment:
Upon finishing and smashing two-hours, Nike presents Kipchoge with:
Odds to win Breaking2 MVP:
Over/under on finishing time: 2:01:22
Odds a brouhaha erupts: 150/1
Odds a fan streaks on the course: 4/1
Odds a defrocked Irish priest makes contact with the runners: 3/1
Odds a fan throws a dildo on the field: 45/1
Odds Eliud Kipchoge retires after the run: 120/1
Odds on the primary color of Eliud Kipchoge’s hair when he comes out to run:
Odds one of the pacers makes an anti-Trump political statement as they hop into the race: 10/13
Over/Under number of Kyler Merber tweets about Breaking2: 9
Over/Under on the number of times “greatest of all-time” is mentioned on the broadcast: 3.5
Over/Under on Luciano Pavarotti’s length of the Italian National Anthem: 1 minute and 58 seconds
(Wait, he’s dead?)
Odds on Enya’s opening half-time performance show song:
Odds on which company will sneak in an ad during the broadcast:
How to watch Nike’s Breaking2 marathon. A livestream will be available through Nike’s website and social media to watch three men try to run sub two hours.
Geraldo Rivera got us good with his Mystery of Al Capone’s Vaults in 1986. Are we setting ourselves up for disappointment with Breaking2?
A handful of Nike athletes attempt to break 2 hours in a marathon under a non-record eligible circumstances and that’s okay with me.
Eliud Kipchoge, Lilesa Disesa and Zersenay Tadese will try to become the first man to break two hours for the marathon. Here is everything that is known.
Some weather-dependent day this weekend, the triumvirate of Eliud Kipchoge, Lelisa Desisa, and Zersenay Tadese will line up in Monza, Italy, to complete just shy of 18 trips around the town’s 1.5 mile long Formula One track. Nike — the sponsor of the event — is pretending to rest its hopes on one of these three men traversing 26.2 miles in a time of 1:59:59 or faster.
But sub-two or not, Nike’s already won.
The company hasn’t come out and said as much, but it is nothing more than a marketing ruse, and a highly successful one at that. Just type “nike sub 2” into Google, and marvel at the number of gushing press clippings from countless highly reputable journalistic outlets (now including Citius Mag!). Once again, Nike has done what it does best: drum up hype at low-to-no cost.
The success of the attempt is irrelevant. In all likelihood, none of the selected, impossibly gifted athletes will dip below the two hour threshold this weekend, despite every advantage bestowed upon them by Nike. Controversial energy-preserving shoes, a closed and non-record-eligible course, fluids and fuel on demand, vehicular pacers, the like. It’s not enough to make it happen. We just aren’t there yet.
It doesn’t seem likely that almost three minutes will be lopped off of an already imposing world record. But in terms of undelivered upon promises, Nike’s probable failure to deliver the world’s first marathon time beginning with a “1,” just isn’t that big of a deal. So it seems pretty silly to get all worked up over a massive multinational corporation doing what it exists to do: sell shit.
Someday, somebody somewhere will run 1:59. And the world will keep spinning until then— and after.
No harm, no foul. And compared to other recent pop-cultural misleadings, it barely registers as anything other than an ambitious plan falling shy of its endgame. Let’s take a look at some of the others, on the below “Graph of Grift!”
When a claim is huge, and the failure to deliver on it qualifies as downright fraudulent, bad things happen. Things like worsening race relations, the loss of thousands of people’s life-savings, and misdiagnosing of major illness can occur. True catastrophes. These are the things that keep investigative journalism relevant, and deserve our fullest condemnation.
Assholes scamming senior citizens by calling and pretending to be their bail-seeking, imprisoned grandchildren are an everyday example.
When the stakes are low, the extremely wealthy are targeted, and fraud occurs, the result is a sort of cathartic humor we plebeians can revel in. A bunch of millionaire Vine stars got swindled by Ja Rule into paying thousands of dollars to eat bread sandwiches and sleep in FEMA tents? That’s pretty funny. Some Gwyneth Paltrow fans purchased a purported cold juicing device that basically just squirts out the contents of expensive bags of liquidized fruit? High comedy.
Nike’s sub-two attempt and accompanying hype falls into this third camp. It’s a bold claim, and not so far outside the realm of possibility that we can fully scoff at it. So instead, we pay attention to claims like these, express our skepticism, and then get to say “I told you so” when they bomb.
(Think: Jay-Z’s dumb streaming service, TIDAL, or Neil Young’s PonoPlayer.)
This is the type of unfulfilled hype that is so blatant, the lie is inextricable from the thing itself in a very public way. You know full well where your money is going— down the tubes— and you don’t care.
When you pull off of the interstate at the behest of a billboard reading “WORLD’S LARGEST CERAMIC GOBLIN,” you are willingly entering this space.
We are deceived from the moment we’re born. (“What a beautiful baby” is the first repeated lie we hear. Most babies are strange looking and don’t become cute until a few months of out-of-the-womb development.) We can all handle some more.
When Kipchoge is this weekend’s sole finisher, and runs 2:02:48, nobody has gotten hurt. The sport that we love will continue to be an afterthought between Olympic cycles. And Nike will still make billions of dollars a year. There are greater atrocities out there more deserving of our attention.
And if I’m wrong? Then something pretty cool has succeeded in taking place.
Kenenisa Bekele could be poised for a fast race in London this weekend. And things could go awry for Eliud Kipchoge in Italy. What if both scenarios unfold?
What we learned from the 2022 Berlin Marathon, where Eliud Kipchoge broke his own world record in 2:01:09.
A preview of the 2022 Berlin Marathon where Eliud Kipchoge may lower his 2:01:39 world record and Keira D’Amato tries to break her 2:19:12 American record.
Eliud Kipchoge’s 2:01:39 world record in the marathon is still outrageous.
What can the reception to Eliud Kipchoge’s performance in Berlin tell us about the current state of running fandom?
Former Harvard sprinter James Lim joins the CITIUS MAG Podcast to reflect on his experience competing on Survivor: Ghost Island.
Nick Roche details how he plans to run an Olympic Marathon Trials qualifier while also balancing a full-time job with Adidas and working with elite runners.
Rising U.S. sprints star Noah Lyles joins the CITIUS MAG Podcast before starting his sophomore season as a professional runner.
If the conditions are right on Sunday, there is no reason that we shouldn’t see the world record
broken in the 2018 London Marathon.
Going undefeated since 2014, Eliud Kipchoge, who tops the elite men’s start list, is the man for the job. Because of Kipchoge, any man who wants a chance at the win must also take a chance at the record. There are four men in particular who undoubtedly have their sights set on victory that will likely go out in world record pace to challenge Kipchoge. Mo Farah, Daniel Wanjiru, Kenenisa Bekele, and Guye Adola will do their best to challenge the 2016 Olympic Marathon Champion. The stakes are different for each man on this list, and Kipchoge’s performance on Sunday will prove whether or not these stakes even matter in the first place.
Mo Farah will compete in the marathon for the first time since retiring from the track last
summer with ten global gold medals in the 5,000 and 10,000 meters. In the race that is being
treated as his debut at 26.2, Farah will prove that he has what it takes to be competitive with the
best of the best on the road. After winning the Vitality Big Half-Marathon in March, 3 seconds
ahead of Daniel Wanjiru, Farah confidently told The Guardian “The good thing is here I’ve
learned I looked as good as Wanjiru. Some of my sessions and the work I’ve done in the past
four weeks have been unbelievable. I think I still have it.”
Daniel Warinju is the reigning London Marathon champion. The Kenyan broke the tape last year
with a time of 2:05.48. Wanjiru is looking to repeat last year’s success in London but faces a
bigger challenge this year because of Eliud Kipchoge’s addition to the lineup.
Kenenisa Bekele is quoted by LetsRun as saying “It will be an honor to race alongside Sir Mo
Farah and Eliud Kipchoge as well as the other great athletes in the field. I have been training
very hard with the aim of arriving in London in April in the best possible condition.” When
Bekele says he aims at arriving in the best possible condition, that means arriving in world
record-breaking condition. Bekele ran the second fastest marathon of all time in 2016 but has
failed to complete multiple races over 26.2 miles since then. This year’s race against Kipchoge
will be the ultimate indicator of whether Bekele still has what it takes. The last contestant that cannot be counted out is Guye Adola. In 2017 he had the fastest marathon debut of all time at the Berlin Marathon with a time of 2:03:46, finishing second behind Kipchoge. With only one marathon under his belt, Adola has got to prove that he has more than just beginner’s luck.
The stats of these headliners together are insane. Between just Farah, Kipchoge, and Bekele there are eight Olympic gold medals, 12 World Outdoor Championship gold medals, and four world records. Throw Warinju and Adola into the mix, and you’ve also got the reigning London champion, and the fastest marathon debut of all time. Three of these men have personal bests of under 2 hours and 4 minutes and two of them, Kipchoge and Bekele, have gone within 10 seconds of the standing world record. Kipchoge is the only man to have proved that he is capable of going under Dennis Kimetto’s 2014 world record of 2:02.57.
Almost exactly a year ago Kipchoge clocked 2:00.25 in Nike’s Breaking2 attempt, unofficially
breaking the world record by a whopping 2 minutes and 32 seconds. The timing has never been
better for Kipchoge to go under the record again. If the rest of the elite field is up for the literal chase, that should be enough to get Kipchoge across the line sub 2:02.57. After his entry for this year’s race was announced, Kipchoge told The Guardian, “remember I ran the third-fastest time in history last year (London 2016) and I just missed out on the record by a few seconds. London is truly the place to break the world record.”
Any man who wants to be competitive in this race must go out in world record pace, meaning
that it is possible we might see multiple men go under the record on Sunday. The men’s elite
field for London 2018 does just about the best job it can in lining up competition for the man
dubbed the greatest marathoner of the modern era. Rather than a race against the clock, or even
the world record, the 2018 London Marathon will be a race against Eliud Kipchoge. Can the man
be beat? We’ll have to wait and see.
Chris Chavez and Scott Olberding connect for a special edition of Lane 9 as they try to imagine how the 2018 Boston Marathon plays out.
Former Oregon distance runner Emma Abrahamson joins The CITIUS MAG Podcast to chat about her days running for the Ducks and YouTube fame.
Get to know Mr. Pat Dormer. He was my high school coach and one of my biggest influences and mentors in the sport. He’s got some ideas on growing track.
Ben True joins The CITIUS MAG Podcast with Chris Chavez to discuss his win at the 2018 United NYC Half.
You’ve seen some of his work on the social media profiles of professional, collegiate and high school runners but who is the photographer @NotAfraid2Fail?
Over the weekend Lou Serafini became the 514th American to break four minutes for the mile when he ran 3:59.33 at the Boston University Last Chance Meet.
Alex Hutchinson joins the show to discuss his new book “ENDURE: Mind, Body and the Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance.”
We opened up the phone lines and among our first calls was a question about the 6-12-18-24 challenge and someone who did it in 12 hours.
2016 U.S. Olympian and Nike Bowerman Track Club steeplechaser Colleen Quigley joined the CITIUS MAG Track Club ahead of the U.S. Indoor Championships.
2015 World Championship 400 meter hurdle silver medalist Shamier Little joins the CITIUS MAG Podcast and breaks down the fastest 400m hurdle race in history
DumbFlotrack has a take for you. He doesn’t think Galen Rupp is worth watching anymore and he outlines the reasons why. Shout-out Shaun the Sheep.
Alan Webb, the American record holder in the mile, joins the CITIUS MAG Podcast to delve into some of the best races of his career & what’s ahead for him.
Andrew Wheating sits down for an 80-minute chat with Chris Chavez just one day after announcing his retirement. A detailed look back at his career.
We took a look at all of the data from the 2017 marathons around the world and observed some of the trends and notable observations.
We decided to do a little crossover episode between the CITIUS MAG Podcast and The Price of A Mile With Woody Kincaid to discuss his rookie year.
Kyle Merber joins the CITIUS MAG Podcast to answer listener questions about the best kick in middle distance running, Gags stories, Real Maine 2 and more
The CITIUS MAG Podcast brings you an interview with Shalane Flanagan as she wrapped up her training for the 2017 New York City Marathon.
Four-time U.S. Olympian Abdi Abdirahman joins the CITIUS MAG Podcast ahead of Sunday’s TCS New York City Marathon. He discusses his future in the sport.