Whether you are an elite athlete or simply a recreational weekend warrior, right now we should all be paying attention to what is happening in the world of marathon running. At this moment in time, with minimal fanfare or attention, the sport of running – perhaps more than any other sport - is truly demonstrating what the human body is capable of.
Months ago, we wrote an article about Courtney Dauwalter, a woman who has been setting records all over the world running unfathomable distances. She is an ultra-endurance runner who competes in races that exceed 200 miles – that’s right, 200 miles. While her focus is testing the limits of running endurance, another man is testing the limits of speed.
Eluid Kipchoge is a marathoner who is on a quest to break a record that many feel is simply physically impossible; running a marathon (26.2 miles) in under two hours.
This amazing Kenyan marathoner is breaking world records almost every time he runs, which is why his goal is not simply to set world records, but instead his goal is to surpass the limit of what was believed to be humanly possible. In his most recent race, the Berlin Marathon which he ran just last month, he achieved a time of 2 hours 1 minute and 39 seconds. This was of course yet another world record, but even more importantly, it put him only 100 seconds away from a truly jaw-dropping achievement. For some perspective, please recognize that running 26.2 miles in two hours equates to an average pace per mile of 4 minutes and 38 seconds.
If you don’t know anything about running, you may not be able to imagine how fast that actually is. Again, for some perspective, consider your local high school track. One lap around a high school track is a quarter of a mile (400 meters), and if you sprinted around that track even just one time, you would probably not even come close to finishing within a minute. In fact, record setting collegiate runners are barely hitting four minute miles in single mile races, yet Kipchoge is able to run 4.5 minute miles, 26 times in a row.
Kipchoge’s physical strengths are his cardiovascular capacity and muscle efficiency, but also his mindset while racing and especially while training. He is officially the greatest marathon runner of all time, and while he is obviously physically ‘gifted,’ his 5-foot-6 115-pound stature does not set him so far apart from the average teenager. So if you happen to be someone reading this who feels that they are too small for football or too short for basketball, rest assured there is sport for you.