"We believe that once a sub-two-hour marathon is done, the records will fall at traditional marathons after that", Brad Wilkins, the director of NXT Generation Research in the Nike Sport Research Lab, told CNN ahead of the race. They tested and integrated insights across the Nike Breaking2 project, gathered new data and observed first-hand the athletes daily training regimens and lifestyles, constantly looking for avenues where support could be provided.
What Nike is calling the Breaking2 project will culminate in Monza, Italy, when Eliud Kipchoge, Lelisa Desisa and Zersenay Tadese will run for the 2-hour mark. In the end it was Kipchoge, alone with his pacers, who stayed in contention.
Rotating rabbits: Groups of pacers are expected to rotate in and out of the race behind an exhaust-free Tesla pace auto so that six are on the track at all times. His top marathon time is 2:04:45. Competitors were aided by 30 world-class runners who took turns in groups of six keeping the pace to reach the record time.
Desisa was dropped after 50 minutes with Tadese falling back shortly afterwards, but the duo still completed the marathon, with Tadese shaving almost 4 minutes off his personal best to finish in 2:06:51. He has competed in marathons, with a personal best of 2:10:41.
"I've seen the magic of gold shoes and swift suits". Running is central to Nike, which was founded by legendary University of OR track coach Bill Bowerman and one of his athletes, Phil Knight.
"It will need a fast course and a competitive race because athletes bring out the best in each other when they are racing against other athletes", said Bedford.
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The Kenyan ended the race with the same calm smile, but he couldn't achieve the feat. "It's a moment of global inspiration that will encourage every athlete, in every community, to push the limits of their potential".
While Kipchoge failed to break 2 hours, the event never lacked excitement.
Ultimately, the Breaking 2 race amounted to a two-hour live-stream program by Nike that was part commercial, part sporting event, and part foray into broadcasting with celebrity commentary. You can also watch it on Nike's Facebook page here. Each runner will be wearing shoes specifically designed for him. Breaking the 2-hour barrier offers a premier marketing opportunity for athleticwear companies.
Adidas announced its "Sub2" program in February, attached to its own Adizero Sub2 shoe.
The Kenyan, 32, clocked 2:00.25 but due to the use of in-out pacemakers, the time will not be recognised as a world record, meaning Dennis Kimetto's mark of 2:02.57 is still the quickest.