Eliud Kipchoge

Eliud Kipchoge, Rio gold medalist, training to break two-hour marathon mark in 2017

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The reigning Olympic marathon champion has teamed with Nike for Breaking2, an attempt to run 26.2 miles in under two hours.

In the official press release, Nike referred to the project as “an innovation moonshot designed to unlock human potential.”

Over the past two years, WIRED and Runner’s World reports, Nike has dedicated a team of scientists, coaches, designers and statisticians to breaking the two-hour marathon barrier. According to WIRED, the Breaking2 team is “working to address every single factor that might slow the runners down. They’re looking at the aerodynamic properties of running apparel; pacing strategies of world-class runners as well as what they eat and how they train; the look, size, and feel of racing shoes; even the environment and shape of the track.”

Nike has recruited three top athletes for the project: Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, a three-time Olympic medalist who won gold in the men’s marathon at the 2016 Rio Olympics; Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadese, who holds the half marathon world record and also won a bronze medal in the 10,000m at the Athens Olympics; and Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa, a two-time Boston Marathon winner.

Tadese told Runner’s World, “I know one day [two hours] will be broken. I want to be part of it.”

The current world record, set by Dennis Kimetto of Kenya at the Berlin Marathon in Sept. 2014, is 2:02:57.

Kipchoge’s personal best time is 2:03:05, notched at the 2015 London Marathon. His winning time in Rio was 2:09:54.

It’s expected that the Breaking2 team will not attempt to break the two-hour mark during a traditional marathon. Instead, Kipchoge, Tadese and Desisa will likely race on a specially-designed course that’s closed to the public.

The special marathon is reportedly planned for spring 2017, with the exact date and location yet to be announced.

Nike hasn’t addressed whether their attempt at breaking the world record will be sanctioned by the International Association of Athletics Federation.

“At the end of the day, we just want to show it can be done,” Nike’s VP of Footwear Innovation, Tony Bignall, told Runner’s World. “We want to show that it’s within the capability of human physiology.”

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Snowboarding pioneer Jake Burton Carpenter passes away

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Jake Burton Carpenter, the pioneer who brought snowboarding to the masses and helped turn the sport into a billion-dollar business and Olympic showpiece, has died at 65.

He died Wednesday night in Burlington, Vermont, according to an email sent to the staff of the company he founded. Carpenter had emailed his staff this month saying, “You will not believe this, but my cancer has come back.” He had been diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011 but after several months of therapy had been given a clean bill of health.

Carpenter quit his job in New York in 1977 to form the company now known simply as Burton. His goal was to advance the rudimentary snowboard, then called a “Snurfer,” which had been invented by Sherman Poppen a dozen years earlier.

It worked, and more than four decades later, snowboarding is a major fixture at the Winter Games and snowboards are as common as skis at resorts across the globe.

“He was our founder, the soul of snowboarding, the one who gave us the sport we all love so much,” Burton co-CEO John Lacy said in his email to the staff.

Grieving Mikaela Shiffrin returns to World Cup Alpine action with fourth reindeer at stake

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The traditional World Cup Alpine skiing season opener last month in Soelden, Austria, was an emotional one for Mikaela Shiffrin.

Shiffrin’s grandmother, Pauline Condron, was in declining health in the days leading up to the race, making Shiffrin wonder if she should head home instead of staying in Soelden. Condron was especially close to Shiffrin, helping to take care of her soon after birth.

Condron passed away Oct. 22, four days before the Soelden giant slalom, at age 98.

“Polly loved sports,” Condron’s obituary said. “She was an avid bowler in her younger years and enjoyed playing tennis and skiing. Few people know that she excelled at ping pong, had a killer serve, gave up very few games and played into her 90s.”

Condron was able to see Shiffrin in person at World Cup races in Killington, Vt. The World Cup will return next weekend to Killington, which has just passed its FIS inspection.

Shiffrin finished second in Soelden’s giant slalom to an upstart rival, 17-year-old New Zealander Alice Robinson. Shiffrin is the reigning Olympic and World Cup champion in the giant slalom, but she hasn’t won in Soelden since 2014.

In the slalom, Shiffrin is more dominant. She won eight of nine World Cup races last year, losing only to Slovakia’s Petra Vlhova, and won her fourth straight world championship despite battling illness. The last time Shiffrin finished worse than second in the technical discipline was in the 2018 Olympics, when she uncharacteristically faltered and finished fourth.

Saturday’s race in Levi, Finland, is a slalom. Shiffrin has won three of the last five races in Levi, which means she also has three reindeer  Rudolph, Sven and Mr. Gru. She can win a fourth on Saturday.

The men also have a slalom this weekend in Levi, racing Sunday.

Both runs for each event stream live on NBC Sports Gold at 4:15 and 7 a.m. ET, with the Olympic Channel also carrying the second runs each day.

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