I’m not the only one who feels that way. The men’s world record for the marathon (26.2 miles) is 2:02:57, set by Kenyan Dennis Kimetto in Berlin in 2014. (For comparison, I ran Berlin in 3:58:00 in 2015.) That record has gotten some very committed people into thinking a 1:59:59 marathon is possible. Not only possible, but three world-class runners are planning on trying for this milestone this weekend in Monza, Italy.
Why would anyone think a two-hour marathon is possible? There has been a tremendous amount of progress since record-keeping began. For example, the first men’s world record for one mile was recognized by the International Amateur Athletics Federation (now the International Association of Athletics Federations) in 1913 as 4 minutes, 14.4 seconds. Today, an elite marathoner can run every mile (all 26+ of them) faster than five minutes per mile. (A five-minute pace equates to a 2:11:06 marathon.)
The driving force behind the Monza, Italy attempt is the shoe and apparel company Nike. Appropriately, it’s being called a “moonshot”. As I write this, the attempt could begin in about an hour. And since this is the Internet age, you can follow along here : http://www.runnersworld.com/live?internal_recirc=hpfeatblock . Or you can just read the inside story at http://www.runnersworld.com/2-hour-marathon/moonshot?internal_recirc=hpblock1 . This attempt will give the runners every advantage, including an ideal course and weather, so it will break too many rules to qualify as a world’s record. But it will still be quite a feat.
I wish them well.
The photo is from the Runner’s World magazine’s website.