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May 2, 2017

On Monza: An inside look at the course picked for Breaking 2

Nike has been pretty stingy in doling out tidbits of information to the details-starved public surrounding its Breaking 2 Project.

The “exclusive” access granted to Wired amounted to a writer chronicling his own largely irrelevant training leading up to an attempt at shattering an arbitrary milestone. It was really well-written but I at least want to know more about the elites. Over time we’ve been fed a tentative date and location of said attempt. And this week we learned that the Big Day’s pacers will be high-profile Nike-sponsored athletes, who have been made to forego a legitimate racing opportunity themselves, in the interest of a perhaps greater good. We have an idea of each of the parts, but not the whole their sum will amount to.

And that’s totally understandable.

As I’ve already blogged, this is first and foremost a highly successful publicity stunt, which, by definition means creating a gradual crescendo of hype. If we knew what would happen this weekend and exactly how it might all pan out, we wouldn’t tune in.

Well, what if I divulged a bit of information surrounding the course upon which Nike’s chosen athletes will run? Oh yes. I have insider information, because almost 12 years ago, I was there.

(Photo courtesy of the Paul Snyder Private Collection)

It was September of 2005. I was a freshman in high school, poised to run his first ever cross country race. 5’5″ and 95 pounds of pre-pubescent promise. I had gone out with my dad to buy my first racing shoes, expecting to debut along with my big, Texas, public high school’s JV squad. But then a call came. My grandpa had gotten my dad and I tickets to a car race in Italy, somehow. So I missed my first meet, and instead, flew to Europe for the first time. (By the time I had returned, our team’s seventh man had beaten up a kid with a baseball bat and was suspended from school; so I was bumped up to the varsity team. That’s unrelated to anything else here.)

I didn’t then, and still don’t, care about cars. But my dad did. So we were enthused by the whole situation. After a long day of travel, we arrived in Monza, a city about 45 minutes away from Milan.

I was 14, even dumber than I am now, and confused by the entire experience, so my memories of the trip are generally hazy. However, I do distinctly recall the race track we visited.

It was the very same Monza Formula One course that Nike’s Sub-2 athletes will line up on this weekend.

Oh yeah. You better believe it. It wasn’t people running on that track. It was extremely loud Formula One cars, being driven by extremely wealthy Formula One drivers with names I couldn’t pronounce.

So there you have it, folks. This course is for cars. Not people. How that effects the Nike athletes this weekend is anybody’s guess. Just be sure to know that Formula One means cars. So there really isn’t a precedent for how a human body will adapt to this sort of environment.

I don’t think they will break two. If they were in cars they would, though.

Oh shit…

breaking 2 kipchoge car

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