The greatest marathoner ever is taking his second shot at history this weekend.
In his all-conquering career, it’s the final, elusive frontier—an impossible dream that Eliud Kipchoge will now try to make a reality.
The 34-year-old has done it all—Olympic gold, world title, the marathon world record—but there is one thing he has yet to tick off his bucket list: a sub-two-hour marathon.
“Many ideologies [have] been going that no human will break the two-hour mark but personally, I have dared to try,” Kipchoge said in a video of the INEOS 1:59 Challenge documentary series. “I am doing it to make history.”
He is, without question, the greatest marathoner of all time, but in a park in Vienna, Austria, on Saturday, Kipchoge will aim for immortality. The start time for the event will be 8:15 a.m. in Vienna; 2:15 a.m. ET.
Fans know that he has come close before. In May 2017, the Kenyan clocked 2:00:25 on a formula one racetrack in Monza, Italy, during Nike’s Breaking2 project. It was the fastest marathon ever run, but did not count as an official world record because of the use of rotating pacemakers.
Kipchoge went on to set the official world record at last year’s Berlin Marathon, running 2:01:39 to carve 78 seconds off the previous mark. Shortly after winning his 10th straight major marathon in London this past April, he announced his next project: the INEOS 1:59 Challenge.
In his bid to push back the boundaries of human ability, he thinks he’ll have more than luck on his side. “I have a rich experience from Monza,” he said. “I am confident I will beat the mark.”
Many of the people close to Kipchoge are as confident as he is. His manager, Valentijn Trouw, has overseen his preparation. In an interview with Runner’s Worldon Wednesday, he said Kipchoge is primed for the task.
“If we look at the whole training circle and compare it with preparations for London (in 2019) or Berlin (in 2018), he is in a nice position,” Trouw said.
Trouw paid several visits to Kipchoge as he trained for the attempt in Kaptagat, Kenya, and having been there for every step of Nike’s Breaking2 project, he sees a difference in Kipchoge’s mindset this time.
“Two years ago he was training his mind for seven months to convince himself he could do it. The moment we talked about this, Eliud had that internal feeling: ‘If I train well and it all comes together on the day, I’m going to do it.’”
No stone has been left unturned in preparation. With the financial backing of INEOS, a petrochemical company owned by the richest man in Britain, Jim Ratcliffe, every detail has been orchestrated to maximize Kipchoge’s chances.