Moonshot — Testing the Limits of the Human Body

I’ve been running as a sport since 1980.  One thing I’ve learned as a result is not to limit myself; it’s amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it.

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.

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