Three of the world’s best distance runners will attempt to run a sub-2:00 marathon this weekend on a track near the Italian city of Monza.
On a Formula One race track, the runners will seek to achieve what many had believed would be impossible: run 26.2 miles in under 120 minutes.
The current world record for such distance is 2:02:57, held by Kenyan runner Dennis Kimetto after he won the 2014 Berlin Marathon.
It took 16 years for the record to descend from 2:06:05 to sub-2:03.
In the race that will begin on Saturday at 5:45am Central European time, Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge, two-time Boston winner Lelisa Desisa, and half marathon world record-holder Zersenay Tadese will try to break the 2:00 mark.
As a symbolic barrier deemed humanly impossible, clocking 1:59:59 means maintaining an average pace of at least 13.1 miles per hour.
The runners will do roughly 17.5 laps of the 2.4-kilometer circuit at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, site of the Italian Grand Prix every September, Runner’s World magazine noted on its website.
In a 13.1-mile test run in March, Kipchoge finished with an impressive time of 59:17, well under the pre-event goal of 60:00. Tadese followed with 59:41 while Desisa lagged behind with 62:55.
The quest to break the two-hour mark in the marathon has been one of the biggest topics in elite running circles in recent years.
In 2014, Yannis Pitsiladis, a professor of sports and exercise science at the University of Brighton in Britain, launched his Sub2Hr Project and raised US$30 million.
Last December, Nike announced its “Breaking2 project”, with a goal to “test the limits of the human heart”. Adidas is also reported to be working on a sub-2:00 project.
The weekend event will be ratified by the IAAF, the track and field’s international governing body, but the attempt will not be for an officially sanctioned world record, media reports quoted a spokesperson for Nike, which is sponsoring the race, as saying.
The race is closed to the public but it will be live-streamed on Runner’s World website and Nike’s Facebook Page.
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