Early this past Saturday morning, Nike and their crew made their much publicized attempt at breaking two hours in the marathon.
I wrote this post months ago when it was announced which was largely critical of the attempt.
It took place on a 2.4k race track in Milan, Italy. There was a phalanx-type drafting strategy with pacers switching out every few miles, along with a Tesla pace car going exactly 4:34 mile pace to keep them on track. Kipchoge, Desisa, and Tadese hung in the back getting their fluids constantly.
Desisa dropped off the pace first, then Tadese, both before they reached the halfway point. However, everyone knew the only man with a real chance was Eliud Kipchoge. Through 35k (marathon is 42k) Kipchoge was actually on pace.
He faded in the last few kilometers and ran an astounding 2:00:25
Eliud Kipchoge is a god damn legend.
The general consensus leading in was 90% no chance, 9% small chance, and 1% they’ll break two. This wasn’t about Nike and all the gadgets / science they could put behind breaking 2:00:00. This was about Eliud Kipchoge putting on a performance that no one expected. Desisa and Tadese fading horrible is even more evidence of that.
Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4% Shoes were not the answer.
Nike claims the “Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4% makes runners 4% more efficient compared to Nike’s previous fastest marathon shoe“, whatever that means. It certainly doesn’t mean “wear these shoes and run 4% faster”, because if that were the case, Kipchoge’s time in “real” shoes would’ve been over 2:05, which, given the conditions, frankly would’ve been a pretty horrible run.
Running was cool for two hours.
Nike went HAM promoting this and it worked. It was live on Twitter (great idea), much hyped, and non-runners actually followed this to some extent. For a sport that lacks any mainstream marketability, this was a pretty big attraction and opens the doors to future “stunts” like this.
But, ‘real’ running may have taken a shot.
My fear prior to this was that this would diminish future marathons. Two hours is easy to remember. Everyone will have that as the anchor in their head. When someone runs 2:10, or 2:05 and even 2:03, the casual fan will view it as “meh”.
Although I still won’t buy Nike products, all things considered, this event was generally a success and I’d say it was good for the sport.