The first attempt to smash the 2 hour barrier for the marathon ended in failure – but only by the tightest of margins.
Olympic marathon gold winner Eliud Kipchoge, 32, took on the feat and missed the record by just 25 seconds.
He completed the in 2 hours 25 seconds – almost 2.5 minutes faster than the world record set by Dennis Kimetto in 2014.
Although Kipchoge failed to beat his target, he is the fastest ever marathon runner, but will not take the record as the world athletics governing body ruled the race was rigged too much in Kipchoge’s favour.
The race was run on the motor racing circuit at Monza, Italy, where the track is flat, the straights long and the corners banked and designed to let cars take them at speed.
Track and technology
That meant Kipchoge did not have to check his speed at corners and could run at his optimum speed all the way.
He also had the benefit of technology in specially designed shoes from his sponsor Nike, who had sunk millions of dollars into the project.
Preparation took several months and Kipchoge was reportedly paid $1 million for taking part.
On the track, Kipchoge was escorted by six pacemakers running in a flying vee formation. Studies by Nike determined this grouping would use the least energy for the runners.
Although the other runners had problems keeping to speed, Kipchoge was only a second off the pace at 30 kilometres and five seconds at 35 kilometres.
“Thanks to all the pacers, to help me to go through this challenge,” he said.
“I hope to do it next time, but I am happy to have run a 2:00.25 marathon. My mind was fully on two hours but this journey has been good.
“It has been hard. I has taken seven good months of preparation and dedication but I am happy to have done that time. It is history.”
Would Nike back another try at the sub 2-hour marathon?
Maybe, said Matt Nurse, vice-president of the company’s sports lab.
“We are already discussing other moonshots, perhaps related to female athletes. It’s not one and done, it just may take a different form next time,” he said.