Ineos 1:59 Challenge

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Logo of the event INEOS 159 Challenge logo.svg
Logo of the event

The Ineos 1:59 Challenge was a successful 2019 attempt by Kenyan athlete Eliud Kipchoge to break the two-hour mark for running the marathon distance. The event was specifically created for Kipchoge and held in Vienna, Austria, on 12 October 2019.


Due to rotating pacemakers, delivery of hydration by bicycle, and the lack of open competition, the achievement was not eligible to be ratified as a marathon world record, and is not recognized as such by World Athletics.


Kipchoge at the 2018 London Marathon London Marathon 2018 (41594080862).jpg
Kipchoge at the 2018 London Marathon

In 2016, Nike organized the Breaking2 project to train a team of runners for an attempt at completing a marathon distance in under two hours, a benchmark previously considered impossible to achieve. Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya, the world record holder in the men's marathon and the current defending Olympic marathon champion was one of the runners on that team. When the event was finally held on 6 May 2017 at Autodromo Nazionale Monza in Milan, Kipchoge would finish first before the other runners, Zersenay Tadese and Lelisa Desisa, but would fall short of the two-hour goal by 25 seconds. [1] [2] He won the event by over six minutes.

On 6 May 2019, the 65th anniversary of the four-minute mile, multinational chemicals company Ineos announced that Kipchoge would attempt again to achieve a sub-two-hour marathon run, in an event sponsored by the company. [3] This marked a shift away from the original format of Breaking2. Instead of three participants, only Kipchoge targeted the record, having already set the marathon world record of 2:01:39 at the Berlin Marathon on 16 September 2018. [4]

For the Ineos challenge, Kipchoge was joined by forty-one pacemakers, [5] who rotated twice each lap and ran in a V-formation, rather than the diamond formation chosen for the previous attempt. Kipchoge was placed at the bottom of the formation with two pacemakers running behind him. [6] Each lap of the course featured two 4.3-kilometre (2.7-mile) out-and-back stretches of Hauptallee with the turning points coming at the Lusthaus and Praterstern roundabouts at either end of the avenue, in the Prater park. The entire route inclines only 2.4 metres (7.9 feet). Spectators were present for the attempt. [7]

The organizers planned to run the event on Saturday, 12 October 2019, but they had a reserve window of eight days in case of poor weather conditions. [8] The attempt was run on 12 October starting at 08:15 CET. Organizers allowed a start time between 05:00 and 09:00, but chose 08:15 to maximize viewership. The weather conditions were expected to be dry with a temperature of 9 °C (48 °F) at the start, rising to 12 °C (54 °F) at the finish. [9]


Ineos 1:59 Challenge [10] [11]
5 km splitsSplitTime
5 km14:100:14:10
10 km14:100:28:20
15 km14:140:42:34
20 km14:130:56:47
25 km14:121:10:59
30 km14:121:25:11
35 km14:121:39:23
40 km14:131:53:36
42.195 km6:041:59:40
Average 5 km14:10.8

Kipchoge completed the challenge with an official time of 1:59:40.2, an average speed of 5.88 metres per second (21.2 km/h; 13.2 mph). [12]

The achievement was recognised by Guinness World Records with the titles "Fastest marathon distance (male)" and "First marathon distance under two hours". [13] [14] Note that this recognition does not equate to a marathon competition record.

Directly after finishing the run, Kipchoge stated: "I am feeling good. After Roger Bannister in 1954 it took another 63 years, I tried and I did not get it - 65 years, I am the first man - I want to inspire many people, that no human is limited." [15]

Accessories and optimization strategies

The organizers of the attempt added many techniques during the run which cumulatively assisted Kipchoge and the pacemakers:

The Breaking2 attempt had been held behind closed doors at Monza with just a few press and Nike employees present. Kipchoge missed the presence of a crowd there and requested that the public be allowed to attend the Ineos 1:59 Challenge. [20]


A team of forty-one runners served as Kipchoge's pacemakers in the challenge. [21]

Joel Ayeko Two-time World Mountain Running Championship silver medalist. [22]
Thomas Ayeko Junior silver medalist at the 2011 IAAF World Cross Country Championships [23]
Selemon Barega 2018 Diamond League champion over 5000 m [24]
Emmanuel Bett Fastest time over 10,000 metres in the 2012 season [25]
Hillary Bor Gold medalist, 3000 metres steeplechase at the 2019 USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships [26]
Matthew Centrowitz 2016 Olympic and World Indoor Champion over 1500 m [27]
Paul Chelimo Olympic and World medalist over 5000 m [28]
Augustine Choge 2006 Commonwealth Games Champion over 5000 m. Part of Eliud Kipchoge’s training group [29]
Victor Chumo Part of Eliud Kipchoge’s training group [30]
Filip Ingebrigtsen Reigning European Cross-Country champion and 2016 European 1500m Champion [31]
Henrik Ingebrigtsen 2012 European 1500m Champion [32]
Jakob Ingebrigtsen European Indoor and outdoor champion. Youngest pacemaker. [33]
Philemon Kacheran Part of Eliud Kipchoge’s training group [34]
Stanley Kebenei [35]
Justus Kimutai [36]
Shadrack Kipchirchir Silver medalist at the 2014 NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 10,000 metres [37]
Noah Kipkemboi [38]
Gideon Kipketer Part of Eliud Kipchoge’s training group [39]
Jacob Kiplimo Silver medalist, IAAF World Cross Country Championships [40]
Marius Kipserem [41]
Eric Kiptanui [42]
Moses Koech [43]
Shadrack Koech [44]
Micah Kogo Former World Record holder for 10k road run. [45]
Alex Korio [46]
Jonathan Korir [47]
Ronald Kwemoi Gold medalist, 2014 Kenyan National Championship in the 1500 metres [48]
Bernard Lagat Oldest pacemaker. Was part of the Breaking2 challenge. Beat Kipchoge to the 5000 m World title in 2007. [49]
Lopez Lomong Part of the Breaking2 attempt in 2017. [50]
Abdallah Mande [51]
Stewart McSweyn [52]
Kota Murayama [53]
Ronald Musagala [54]
Kaan Kigen Özbilen [55]
Jack Rayner [56]
Chala Regasa [57]
Brett Robinson [58]
Nicholas Rotich Part of Eliud Kipchoge’s training group [59]
Patrick Tiernan [60]
Timothy Toroitich [61]
Julien Wanders Former World Record holder for 5k road run. [62] Current European record holder for the half marathon [63] and the European record holder for the 10K run. [64]

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