On the morning of 6th May at 5.45am Nike sent Lelisa Desisa, Zersenay Tadese, and Eliud Kipchoge out to run a 26.2 mile race designed specifically to produce the first ever sub two-hour marathon as part of their ‘Breaking2’ project.
On a Formula One track in Monza, Italy, 32-year-old Kenyan specialist Kipchoge came within 26 seconds of doing exactly that, while his fellow runners came up even shorter. This was the first official attempt to try and run a sub-two marathon, but it certainly won’t be the last.
So why is it such a big fuss? Is it all just a marketing stunt?
According to Yannis Pitsiladis, a leading geneticist heavily involved in sub-two marathon science, the project is essential for raising awareness of the potential of sports science and ultimately proving that you don’t need to dope to be the best.
“Drug usage in sport is more pervasive than the public thought. We in the field knew.”
Pitsiladis is an expert in doping prevention and founder of the Sub2 group; a project separate from Nike’s ‘Breaking2′ but sharing the ultimate goal of a sub two-hour marathon.
Pitsiladis’ Sub2 group state that an athlete completing a sub two hour marathon is “no longer a matter of if but rather when”.
We caught up with the scientist, who is based at the University of Brighton, at the Edinburgh International Science Festival. He believes that in an era where drug use is much “more pervasive than the public thought” the sub-two is imperative for proving the legitimacy of scientific-based training.