from the probably-just-under-two-hours dept.
Alex Hutchinson writes at Runner's World that runners have cut the distance to the sub-two-hour marathon in half since 1998, but it will get progressively harder to trim the remaining seconds. Still, the physiologists tell us that it’s not impossible, meaning it is possible. Hutchinson says it will take several things: a cold day in March or November; a straight, flat course that is mind-numbingly boring; pacemakers who will shepherd leaders around the course cutting the wind and setting the pace; and a runner with a frame of about 5'6", weight of about 120 pounds, and towering self-confidence.
The road is so flat and straight, you can see them coming from a mile away. Six runners flow in arrowhead formation around the Canadian city of Saskatoon. The early November air is still and dry, the sky overcast, and the temperature hovers a bit above freezing, just as predicted. All in their early 20s, they’ve been training together for this moment for years; only in the last month did their coach select which three will go for the record. The remaining three form the front of the arrowhead, blocking the wind and enduring the mental effort of controlling the pace. Should one of them cross the finish line in two hours—or faster—all six will share equally in the $50 million jackpot promised by the heirs to the Hoka One One fortune. The pot of money is up for grabs, for any runner, anywhere in the world. The chase is on. So, will they make it? And what year is this?
I’m saying the year is...2075—and they make it.
We've previously discussed the possibility of running a two hour marathon (with much of the usual wit in this thread). For a comparison against running one mile in four minutes, running at the pace of a five minute mile would be too slow. Like running a mile in four minutes, people said running a marathon in two hours was impossible. However, it is looking very possible with advanced footwear and suchlike. Specifically, Kenyan marathon runner Eliud Kipchoge was within 0.4% of this goal. Variously reported as being 25 seconds or 26 second too slow, his effort is an unofficial world record.