Three elite runners will attempt an audacious assault on the boundaries of the possible by trying to run a marathon in less than two hours.
Reigning Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge from Kenya, Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa and Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadese will aim to complete the marathon distance of 26.2 miles (42.195 kilometres) in 1hr 59min 59 sec or faster at the Monza National Autodrome racing circuit in Italy.
In their pursuit of sporting immortality the trio will need to set a ferocious pace of 4min 34sec per mile — seven seconds quicker than the pace of the current world record of 2:02:57 set by Dennis Kimetto of Kenya at the 2014 Berlin Marathon.
Can they break the record?
Shaving almost three minutes off the current world marathon record may prove to be a hugely difficult task, but this weekend three men will attempt the impossible of breaking the two-hour marathon barrier in Italy.
The ambitious Nike project – named Breaking2 – will see world-class runners Eliud Kipchoge, Lelisa Desisa and Zersenay Tadese line up on the famous Monza International Circuit to attempt to shatter the record of 2:02:57 – set by Kenya’s Dennis Kimetto in Berlin in 2014.
Although the attempt has been certified to satisfy IAAF regulations, the run will not re-write the marathon record books as it is not run on an officially sanctioned course.
Even so, the project has been a long time in the making for the sports brand giant, and if the unthinkable is achieved in Italy, it will go down as a huge milestone in the history of running.
To get even anywhere near eclipsing Kimetto’s epic performance in Germany three years ago, finding the right location to stage the attempt was paramount for Nike – and they believe they have the perfect venue.
Monza is of course more accustomed to having Formula One cars fly around it, but Nike’s extensive research and pre-event analysis identified its quick surface as the tailor-made venue for the record effort.
Indeed, the three elite athletes in question will run 17.5 laps of the 2.4km flat Monza circuit, completing the gruelling 42.195km marathon distance. They will face only one short uphill section per loop as well as very little headwind.
The fact that temperatures are expected to be around a cool 12 ℃ in northern Italy will also aid the Nike runners.
The short course means Kipchoge, Desisa and Tadese will pass hydration stations every seven minutes – about twice as often as stations in normal races. And in order for the runners not to slow down when collecting the fluids, they will be delivered on a moped.
For the athletes, finishing isn’t going to be enough as they have the audacious aim of writing their names into the history books.
Kipchoge’s personal best of 2:03:05 , also set in Berlin in 2013, may put him in prime contention to take on the impossible, but running under sub-2 will mean he has to slice seven seconds off each mile of the race – a massive ask for even the top men in the sport.
Of course, even if a record isn’t broken this weekend, the Breaking2 project still represents a significant breakthrough in marathon running as key figures push the sub-two hour marker.
For those wanting to watch the event, it’s closed to the public but can be viewed on a live stream via the Sport360 website.
Our reporter Niall McCague will be there at the Monza track covering the action, so keep your eyes peeled for content across Sport360’s channels.
Ultimate Racenight’s 60 metre dash to test which type of athlete would reign supreme in the short sprint was won by footballer Amandio Costa, but a fall and injury suffered by Nicolas St Maurice cleared the way for the Portuguese to cross the finish line first.
The experiment, held at Dubai Sports City this past Thursday, brought together nine elite athletes from various sports, including rugby, football, athletics, basketball, kickboxing and powerlifting.
Costa edged powerlifter Wesley Depass and third-placed rugby player Morgan Ward, with a razor-thin gap of 0.5 seconds separating the top five.
“It was good. I prepared myself so this is the prize,” said Costa, who played indoor football for the Portuguese Air Force for five years.
“Like I said before, I’m really happy and humbled to race against these guys, but I’m really happy to win. It’s really good for me.”
It was St Maurice, however, who appeared to be the quickest and on his way to winning, before pulling his hamstring around the 40m mark.
The Montreal native not only ran track at Canada’s McGuill University, but played for the Dubai Barracudas in the Emirates American Football League for two years, making him a well-rounded athlete.
“I really enjoyed running my first sprint in more than 10 years. I had missed this feeling so much and it did not disappoint,” he said.
“Of course I’m disappointed with the final result, but I’m really happy with what I feel we’ve accomplished for athletics in Dubai. The main goal was to promote the sport and show how exciting it is, and I feel like we did a great job for a first time at the Dubai Ultimate Racenight.”
The 60m sprint was in addition to the usual events held throughout the Racenight series, which included standout performances from athletes of all ages in the season’s penultimate edition on Thursday.
Another record was broken courtesy of Nina Waddick, who topped her own mark by 15 centimetres with an impressive high jump of 1.20m in the U-9 age category.
For the senior women, Amal Al Roumi from Kuwait-based Spark Performance Team captured the 1,500m with a time of 5:04.50.
Familiar face Megan Dingle continued to shine as the Ultimate Athletics athlete claimed the U-13 800m in 2:25.68, coming close to the record of 2:22.51 set by Hannah Mclaughlin in Racenight 2.
The coveted 100m, meanwhile, was won by 20-year-old Neil Sabin, who trains with Al Wasl Club, in 10.82 seconds.
While this Racenight was the final opportunity to earn league points, competitors can still take part in the season’s concluding event on May 18. The sixth Racenight will include a men’s Open 60m for ages 25 and above as athletes can challenge for Costa’s throne.