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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Eliud Kipchoge sets next marathon

Eliud Kipchoge
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Eliud Kipchoge will race the London Marathon on April 26 before he is expected to defend his Olympic title in Japan on Aug. 9, which would mark the shortest break between marathons of his career.

Kipchoge, who in his last 26.2-mile effort became the first person to break two hours at the distance, won all four of his London Marathon starts, including breaking the course record in 2016 and 2019.

His time this past April 28 — 2:02:37 — is the third-fastest time in history. Kipchoge has the world record of 2:01:39 set at the 2018 Berlin Marathon. His sub-two-hour marathon in Vienna on Oct. 12 was not in a record-eligible race.

Kipchoge’s previous shortest break between marathons came in 2016, when he also ran London and the Olympics. The Olympics will be two weeks earlier in 2020 than in 2016.

Kipchoge, 35, has won 11 of 12 marathons since moving to road racing after failing to make Kenya’s 2012 Olympic track team.

He has yet to race the two most prestigious marathons in the U.S. — Boston and New York City — but has said they are on his bucket list.

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Canadians become first female doubles luge team in World Cup

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WHISTLER, British Columbia (AP) — Caitlin Nash and Natalie Corless made luge history Saturday, becoming the first female team to compete in a World Cup doubles race.

The 16-year-olds from Whistler combined to finish 22nd in a field of 23 sleds, though that seemed largely irrelevant. There have been four-woman teams in what is typically called four-man bobsledding, but luge has never seen a pairing like this until now.

The German sled of Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken won the race in 1 minute, 16.644 seconds. Germany’s Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt finished second and the Russian team of Vsevolod Kashkin and Konstantin Korshunov placed third for their first medal of the season.

The U.S. team of Chris Mazdzer and Jayson Terdiman placed 11th.

But the story was the Canadian teens, who qualified for the World Cup event on Thursday. They were nearly a half-second behind any other finisher and almost 2.7 seconds back of Eggert and Benecken. But they’ll forever be able to say that they were winning the race at one point — a technicality because they were the first ones down the hill at the Whistler Sliding Center, but accurate nonetheless.

The only sled they beat was the Italian team of Ivan Nagler and Fabian Malleier, who crashed in the second heat.

There are women’s singles and men’s singles races on the World Cup luge circuit, but there is no rule saying doubles teams must be composed of two men. There have been more female doubles racers at the junior level in recent years, and it was generally considered to be just a matter of time before it happened at the World Cup level.

That time became Saturday.

Canada had the chance to qualify a second sled into the doubles field because some teams typically on the circuit chose to skip this weekend’s stop, and Nash and Corless got into by successfully finishing a Nations Cup qualifying race on Thursday.

They were 11th in that race out of 11 sleds, more than a full second behind the winner and nearly a half-second behind the closest finisher. But all they had to do was cross the line without crashing to get into Saturday’s competition, and earned their spot in the luge history books as a result.

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