Eliud Kipchoge said he is more prepared for his second attempt and ready to become the first person to break two hours in a marathon in Vienna on Saturday.
Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA will air Kipchoge’s sub-two attempt, called the Ineos 1:59 Challenge, live on Saturday morning. The start time is 2:15 a.m. ET. The live stream for Olympic Channel subscribers is here.
“I am confident that I have been in that speed in the last two years,” Kipchoge, the Olympic marathon champion and world-record holder from Kenya, said Thursday. “So it’s not something that we’re thinking, oh, are we going to do it? I’ve been doing it for the first time, and the second time, I will get it.”
Kipchoge came close the first time, running 2:00:25 on a Formula One course in Monza, Italy, on May 6, 2017. Kipchoge’s world record is 2:01:39 from the 2018 Berlin Marathon.
Like Monza, the Vienna attempt will not be under record-eligible conditions. For instance, Kipchoge’s 41 pacers, including U.S. Olympic 1500m champion Matthew Centrowitz, are expected to shuffle in and out of the race.
He arrived in Vienna on Tuesday to get his first look at the course — a six-mile circuit of a stretch of flat road at The Prater, a historic park in central Vienna.
“To run in Berlin and to run in Vienna are two different things,” said Kipchoge, the youngest of four siblings raised by his mom, a kindergarten teacher, after the death of his father. “Berlin is running and breaking a world record. Vienna is running and making history in this world, like the first man to go the moon.”
Kipchoge, whose 10-marathon, five-year win streak is a modern-era elite record, gained confidence watching Ethiopian legend Kenenisa Bekele clock 2:01:41 in Berlin on Sept. 29, missing the world record by two seconds.
“Most people were saying no other human being can come close to [2:01:39],” said Kipchoge, who took 78 seconds off the previous world record in Berlin last year. “[Bekele’s run] is a good illustration that no human is limited.”
Kipchoge said he has been thinking about a sub-two-hour marathon since the Rio Olympics. After his Monza attempt, the man of metaphors said, “We are going up the tree … I have lifted a branch and I am going onto the next one. This is not the end of the attempt of runners on two hours.”
Kipchoge, who at 34 is three years younger than Bekele, would not commit to a third attempt if this one fails. He says to wait and see what happens on Saturday.
What’s clear is that Kipchoge sees this race as a positive for the sport.
“In a garden there is flowers and there are weeds,” he said when asked about track and field’s issues, from doping to small crowds at the recent world championships in Doha. “Vienna, we are talking about the flowers. Let us concentrate on the flowers.”
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