The 34-year-old long-distance runner ran the race in one hour, 59 minutes and 40 seconds

By Helen Murphy
October 12, 2019 11:45 AM
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Credit: HERBERT NEUBAUER/APA/AFP via Getty Images

Kenyan long-distance runner Eliud Kipchoge has become the first person to run a marathon in under two hours, breaking a record long thought to be impossible.

The athlete, 34, ran the 26.2 miles in one hour, 59 minutes and 40 seconds at the INEOS 1:59 Challenge in Vienna, Austria, on Saturday, on a course specifically designed for the attempt.

Though the accomplishment marks a breakthrough in the sport of running, Kipchoge’s time will not be recognized as an official world record because it was not run under “open marathon conditions” and because Kipchoge ran alongside a group of professional pacesetters, according to The New York Times.

“HISTORY IS MADE!” the INEOS 1:59 Challenge Twitter account wrote on Saturday. “For so long, so many thought it was impossible, but @EliudKipchoge becomes the first human to run a sub two-hour marathon.”

“I wanted to run under two hours and show human beings can do a good job and lead a good life. It shows the positivity of sport,” Kipchoge said, according to Runner’s World. “I want to make the sport an interesting sport whereby all human beings can run and together we can make this world a beautiful world.”

Eliud Kipchoge
| Credit: ALEX HALADA/AFP via Getty Images

As he crossed the finish line, Kipchoge couldn’t stop smiling as he was embraced by his wife, Grace Sugutt, and the group of pacesetters who had run by his side during the attempt.

“Today we went to the Moon and came back to earth!” Kipchoge wrote on Twitter after the marathon. “I am at a loss for words for all the support I have received from all over the world. Thank you to all who gave me the opportunity. Asante.”

Kipchoge holds the official world record for the marathon as well, with his 2:01:39 time at the 2018 Berlin Marathon, according to Runner’s World. The athlete has also won eight major marathons and three Olympic medals.

The long-distance runner had previously attempted to break the two-hour barrier in the marathon in 2017, when he ran in Nike’s Breaking2 event in Monza, Italy, according to the Times. During that attempt, he ran a 2:00:25, though that time was also not recognized as an official world record.

“Berlin was about running a world record,” Kipchoge said this week, according to the Times. “Vienna is about running and breaking history, like the first man on the moon.”