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Sunday, October 13, 2019

'Moon Landing' For A Marathon Man

Eluid Kipchoge Waltzes to Historic Sub-2 Hour Clocking in Vienna (Getty photo)

By Harry Cummins

     With a little help from his world class friends and some Byzantine course management,Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya became the first human in history to run a marathon in less than 2 hours when he crossed the finish line this weekend in Vienna, Austria in a time of 1 hour 59 minutes 40 seconds.  "This is history, like the first man on the moon," said the 34 year-old Kipchoge.

     To report that this once unimaginable achievement will not be recognized as a world record because it was not staged under normal race conditions, is an understatement.  Kipchoge ran behind an electric timing car driving at the exact pace of 4:34 per mile and surrounded by an aerodynamic V-formation of rotating, world class pace-setters to block any wind.  Green laser beams projected onto the street by the pace car showed runners the perfect path to maximize every tangent on the course.  A bicyclist delivered periodic carbohydrate replacement fluids to Kipchoge over the long rail-like straightaways designed for speed.

     Some may scoff at the carefully staged nature of this event and the hands-on involvement of its sponser INEOS, a global manufacturer of petrochemicals owned by Britian's richest man, Jim Ratcliffe.  Yet, assuming the course measurement was accurate, it remains  a magnificent and historic accomplishment in world athletics.  One must not forget that Kipchoge is the current official record holder in the marathon, posting a WR time of 2:01:39 in Berlin in 2018.  He has won 8 different marathons in his career and is a 3 time Olympic medalist.  His pace-making 'escorts' in Vienna included Olympic gold medalists Bernard Lagat and Matt Centrowitz, along with the three extraordinary Ingebrigtsen brothers.

     Where is Nike in all this, you may ask?  Kipchoge ran his milestone marathon in a pair of foam-filled white Nike sneakers... a model yet unreleased to the public. At present, the shoe is called the ZoomX Vaporfly and is rumored to go on sale for around $300 in the coming months.

     May I suggest, instead, the name 'Moonbeam' to the Nike marketing department. Or, perhaps, 'The Apollo 159'.

     ...and why not market it for a more down-to-earth $159... while you are at it!