Global Sports Communications
The sub-two-hour marathon is the last great barrier of modern athletics. Eliud Kipchoge, the world’s greatest marathon runner, will attempt to break the two-hour barrier in the INEOS 1:59 Challenge, a special marathon being run between late September and early October 2019.
The event will be supported and managed by INEOS. A London venue is being considered.
“Running the fastest ever marathon time of 2:00:25 was the proudest moment of my career”, says Eliud Kipchoge. “To get another chance to break the magical two-hour mark is incredibly exciting. I always say that no human is limited, and I know that it is possible for me to break this barrier”.
On 6 May 1964, Sir Roger Bannister achieved what many believed to be impossible and ran
the world’s first sub-four-minute mile at the Iffley Road track in Oxford. That historic achievement remains one of the most iconic events in the history of sport.
Today, on its 65th anniversary, Eliud Kipchoge, the greatest marathon runner of all time, is
announcing his plan to break the legendary two-hour barrier. Eliud came close to making history in his first attempt to go sub-two when he clocked 2:00.25 in a specially created event (not recognised as an official world record) at Monza, Italy in May
On 17 September 2018, Eliud then took 1 minute 18 seconds off the official world record in
an awe-inspiring performance at the Berlin Marathon, clocking 2:01:39.
Now, following a historic fourth London Marathon win, the world number one believes he is
ready to break the two-hour barrier in the INEOS 1:59 Challenge.
Eliud Kipchoge says, “I learnt a lot from my previous attempt and I truly believe that I can
go 26 seconds faster than I did in Monza two years ago. It gives me great pride to accept
the challenge presented by INEOS. I am very excited about the months of good preparation
to come and to show the world that when you focus on your goal, when you work hard and
when you believe in yourself, anything is possible” Eliud will be supported by Patrick Sang, his inspirational long-term coach, and the team that has led him throughout his successful career who will do all they can during the preparatory phase to ensure that nothing is left to chance. “As Eliud showed in Monza, when he came within touching distance of achieving what many had previously thought impossible, he is a truly special athlete with incredible levels of mental resolve,” explains Patrick.
“Throughout his dazzling marathon career, he has pushed the event to a new stratosphere
and with the right preparation, I believe he has the ability to make history.”
The venue for the INEOS 1:59 Challenge is currently being decided, with a number of options that offer a flat looped circuit being investigated for the event which is planned for late September or early October 2019. A major marketing campaign will publicise the run and live coverage will be broadcast across the world, both on traditional and digital channels. Tens of thousands of spectators are expected to attend.
The INEOS 1:59 Challenge is being supported by INEOS, one of the world’s largest
manufacturing companies, which also sponsors the children’s running charities, GO Run For
Fun and The Daily Mile.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Founder and Chairman of INEOS says, “Eliud Kipchoge is the greatest ever
marathon runner and the only athlete in the world who has any chance of beating the two-
hour time. We are going to give him every support and hopefully witness sporting history”.
Running the first ever sub-two-hour marathon will be amongst the greatest individual sporting achievements of all time. Eliud Kipchoge is capable of this most remarkable human endeavour. If he succeeds he will be in illustrious company:
Roger Bannister The first man to run a mile in under 4 minutes, in Oxford in 1954.
Usain Bolt The fastest man in history, setting a record 9.58 seconds for the 100 metres, in Berlin in 2009 Nadia Comaneci The first gymnast to be awarded a perfect 10, at the Olympic Games in Montreal, 1976
Rocky Marciano The only undefeated heavyweight champion in history Alex Honnold The first free-solo ascent of El Capitan, 2017 Steffe Graf World Number 1 for a record 377 weeks Jesse Owens Set 5 world records in 45 minutes, in Michigan in 1935 Felix Baumgartner the highest ever free-fall parachute jump, 39 miles above New Mexico, 2012
Edmund Hilary The first confirmed summit of Mount Everest, 1953 and Tenzing Norgay
Sir Roger Bannister, the 4 Minute Mile and the Iffley Road Running Track On May 6th, 1954, Roger Bannister broke the 4-minute mile on this site, now known as the Sir Roger Bannister running track.
The track is 400-metre athletics running track. Four laps of the track is equal to a mile. In 1954, Roger Bannister completed those four laps in 3 minutes, 59.4 seconds. It was seen as one of the greatest ever human achievements, breaking a barrier that many thought could not be broken. Bannister himself is quoted as saying, “I’d like to see it as a metaphor not only for sport, but for life and seeking challenges.”
Bannister was a 25-year-old student-athlete, studying medicine at St Mary’s Hospital Medical School. He was famously busy with his studies and had only 45 minutes a day available for training.
Two pacemakers led the way for the first three laps. Christopher Chataway and Chris Basher set the pace, then dropped away leaving Bannister to take over for the final lap. However, they were slightly behind the target and Bannister had to cover the final 400 metres in just 59 seconds to finally break the 4-minute mark. He collapsed with exhaustion after crossing the finishing line.
The Iffley Road track dates back to 1876, when it was originally a 1/3-mile circuit (536 metres). In 1948 Roger Bannister was elected President of Oxford University Athletics Club, with an expressed desire to see the circuit changed to a 6-lane 400-metre track. Work was finished two years later in 1950.
Bannister competed at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics, coming fourth in the 1500-metres. He then set his sights on the sub-4-minute mile, and designed his own training regime, based partly on his own medical knowledge.
After breaking the 4-minute mile, Bannister held the record for just 46 days, before Australian John Landy cut another 1.5 seconds from his time. The two of them then raced against each other in 1954. Landy led for much of the race but coming into the final curve Bannister came through on the outside and won. Both men finished the race in under 4 minutes.
Sir Roger Bannister went on to be a renowned neurologist. He passed away in March 2018 at the age of 88. Lord Coe, President of the IAAF said, “His achievement transcended sport.
It was a moment in history that lifted the heart of a nation and boosted morale in a world that was still at a low ebb after the war. There is not an athlete in my generation that didn’t look up to him.”