Dennis Kimetto

Talk of a sub-two-hour marathon


With every record-breaking performance, more marathon watchers are modifying the question, “Will the two-hour barrier be broken?” to “When will the two-hour barrier be broken?”

Dennis Kimetto became the third Kenyan in four years to break the 26.2-mile record at the Berlin Marathon on Sunday. He clocked 2 hours, 2 minutes, 57 seconds. Kimetto broke the previous record, less than a year old, by 26 seconds.

“I am expecting a marathon in two hours,” Kimetto reportedly said after.

Second-place Emmanuel Mutai, who also finished faster than the previous world record, agreed. “Times are coming down,” the fellow Kenyan said.

Take that for what it’s worth.

Statistically, a sub-two-hour marathon appears inevitable. Nearly 10 minutes have come off the world record in the last 50 years. More than 5 minutes in the last 30 years. The first sub-2:06 came in 1999.

If and when Kimetto’s record will be beaten, it will very likely come in Berlin. The last six marathon world records were set there. More and more, this world record is becoming a product of a tailored setting.

The German capital is an autobahn with its combination of flat roads, pacesetters and, fortunately the last few years, ideal weather. Also key is its World Marathon Major status/hefty financial incentive that attracts multiple elite runners who can push each other after the pacesetters drop off.

Who knows, the man to break Kimetto’s world record could very well be Kimetto.

He’s 30, but he’s younger in marathon years, having debuted at the 2012 Berlin Marathon with the fastest first-timer clocking ever (2:04:16). He won the 2013 Chicago and Tokyo Marathons in course records before dropping out of this year’s Boston Marathon with a hamstring injury.

The Chicago Tribune reported after his Windy City victory last fall that “he had been growing maize and tending a few cows until he began running about four years ago.”

“Actually, I think I could still be a very good runner ten years from now, at 40,” Kimetto said Monday, according to Track and Field News.

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2022 Pan Pacific Championships canceled as swimming calendar shifts

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The Pan Pacific Swimming Championships, a quadrennial major international meet, will not be held in 2022 “out of respect for the recent changes to the international sporting calendar,” according to a press release.

The Pan Pacs’ charter nations — the U.S., Australia, Canada and Japan — agreed to the move. The 2026 event will be held in Canada, which was supposed to be the 2022 host.

The decision came after the 2021 World Championships were moved to May 2022, following the Tokyo Olympics moving from 2020 to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The quadrennial multi-sport Commonwealth Games — which includes Australia and Canada, but not the U.S. or Japan — are scheduled for July 27-Aug. 7, 2022.

“Organizing a third major championships in that window presented several challenges,” according to the Pan Pacs release.

Pan Pacs mark the third-biggest major international meet for U.S. swimmers, held in non-Olympic, non-world championships years.

MORE: Caeleb Dressel co-hosts a podcast. It’s not about swimming.

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Boston Marathon canceled for first time after 123 years; virtual event planned

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The Boston Marathon, held every year since 1897, has been canceled as an in-person event for the first time. It will be held as a virtual race instead due to the coronavirus.

“While we cannot bring the world to Boston in September, we plan to bring Boston to the world for an historic 124th Boston Marathon,” Boston Athletic Association (BAA) CEO Tom Grilk said in a press release.

The world’s oldest annual marathon had been postponed from April 20 to Sept. 14, it was announced March 13.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said he first considered canceling the postponed marathon during a coronavirus surge in April.

“We were maxed out in our hospital emergency rooms,” Walsh said Thursday. “I realized that the downside of the curve, which we were on, the backside of the curve, is going to be going for some time. The concern of a second surge made me have some real reservations about can we have the marathon or not.”

Walsh said experts said a potential second surge would be between August and October. He held out hope to hold the race until talking with the BAA last week.

All participants originally registered for Boston will be offered a full refund of their entry fee and have the opportunity to participate in the virtual alternative, which can be run between Sept. 7-14.

More details, including entry information, will be announced in the coming weeks.

It’s the biggest alteration to the Boston Marathon, which was inspired by the marathon’s debut at the first modern Olympics in 1896. Previously, the biggest change came in 1918, the last year of World War I. The marathon was still held on Patriots’ Day in April but as a 10-man military relay race.

The original 2020 Boston elite fields included two-time U.S. Olympian Des Linden, the 2018 Boston winner who was fourth at the Feb. 29 Olympic Trials, where the top three earned Olympic spots.

London is the world’s other major spring marathon. It was rescheduled from April 27 to Oct. 4. Its original fields for April were headlined by the two fastest men in history — Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge and Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele. It’s unknown if they will remain in the field, should London happen.

The fall major marathon schedule

Boston — Sept. 7-14 (virtual event)
Berlin — TBD (will not be held as planned on Sept. 27)
London — Oct. 4
Chicago — Oct. 11
New York City — Nov. 1

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MORE: U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials results