After three years of preparations, three athletes and a team of pacers set out early on Saturday morning at the Monza race track in Italy with the aim of becoming the first men to break the two hour marathon barrier.
Ethiopian Lelisa Desisa, Eritrean Zersenay Tadese and Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge were the athletes chosen by Nike for their Breaking2 project.
Previously, the fastest time set for a marathon was the world record of 2:02:57 set by Kenyan Dennis Kimetto at the Berlin marathon in 2014.
In the end, it was Olympic champion Kipchoge who came closest to the required mark, running an official time of 2:00:25.
— Nike (@Nike) May 6, 2017
The run will not stand as a world record as Nike did not adhere to the standards required for a marathon. Alternating pacers, which were used for the attempt, are not allowed under IAAF rules.
The attempt received plenty of criticism and was dismissed by many as simply a grand publicity stunt for Nike. The company utilised its billions to give the athletes every advantage with factors such as footwear and nutritional intake during the race being optimised.
Despite this, there can be no doubt that the run has reset the expectations of human endurance.
— sonia osullivan (@soniaagrith) May 6, 2017