During a specially-tailored event in Vienna on Saturday, Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge became the first human to run a marathon in under 2 hours, covering 26.2 miles in 1:59:40.
- One caveat: Kipchoge's time won't count as an official world record because it didn't come in a race setting and he was aided by pacesetters and drink deliveries.
- The backdrop: The 34-year-old Olympic champion attempted this same challenge in 2017, but came up 25 seconds short (2:00:25). Since then, he set the official world record with a time of 2:01:39 at last year's Berlin Marathon.
Why it matters: Official or not, the 2-hour barrier has been broken — a feat that was, until recently, considered impossible.
The big picture: This was running's last great barrier after the 4-minute mile (broken by Roger Bannister in 1954) and the 10-second 100 meters (broken by Jim Hines in 1968).
How it worked: Every aspect of the event, dubbed the Ineos 1:59 Challenge, was designed to give Kipchoge the best chance to succeed.
- Custom shoes: Kipchoge wore a pair of Nike Vaporflys, which have proven controversial because of the performance boost they seem to lend runners. (They featured in the 5 fastest official marathons ever, all of which took place in the past 13 months.)
- Pacemakers: A team of 36 world-class runners ran in an inverted-V formation and rotated in and out, 7 at a time, to keep Kipchoge on pace and shield him from the wind. In front of them, a pace car projected a green laser on the road showing the target pace.
- Drink deliveries: Bicyclists delivered Kipchoge energy gels and carbohydrate drinks throughout his run.
The scene at the finish: "As it looked increasingly likely that [Kipchoge] would succeed, people found whatever vantage point they could to witness a moment of sporting history. They climbed up trees and on top of public toilets," writes the New Yorker's Ed Caesar.
The bottom line: We routinely witness athletes redefine their legacies, but rarely do we witness them redefine what's humanly possible.
"I am running to make history, to show that no human is limited. It's not about money, it's about showing a generation of people that there are no limits."— Eliud Kipchoge
Go deeper: The scene in Kenya after Kipchoge crossed the finish line (Twitter)