It happened! On October 12th, 2019 the World witnessed sports history. Eliud Kipchoge accomplished his lifetime goal of a sub-2 hour marathon, which was the first-ever accomplished by anyone, ever. Eliud accomplished this in Vienna, Austria at the Ineos 1:59 Challenge. This was a sponsored event that was established for the sole purpose of seeing Eliud break the 2-hour barrier.
Eliud Kipchoge is now the holder of both the official World Record and the Unofficial World Record. His official time of 1 hour, 59 minutes, 40.2 seconds won’t be recognized by The International Association of Athletics Federations, though, for the following reasons.
- He had a team of 41 of the best runners in the world acting as “pacemakers” to ensure he was hitting record-setting mile splits; the pacemakers also ran in a v-shaped formation to reduce wind resistance.
- There were coaches on bicycles hydrating Eliud and giving him gel packs.
- Additionally, the terrain was as flat as possible (similar to Berlin!), the race organizers waited for optimal weather conditions, and only Kipchoge ran the race.
So, even though it won’t be officially recognized, Eliud still made history and has proven what is possible with the right training and faith in your abilities. His sub-2 hour marathon is truly an inspiration and we all should feel super honored that we were able to watch it. History has been made and the world was watching. Let’s look a little closer at his life so far, his Berlin Record, his training and diet, and more.
Let’s Learn More About Eliud Kipchoge
Eliud Kipchoge is from Kenya and was born in 1984. He details a lot of what he did right in his early career, in an “Advice to My Younger Self” on the IAAF website.
Growing up in Rural Kenya, Eliud states that he was a good student, a hard worker, and a young runner who showed a lot of initiative by seeking out the “Olympic steeplechase silver medallist Patrick Sang for a training program.” Soon, he would prove his potential by winning 5th in the World Cross Country Championships and then setting a junior record for a 5,000-meter race.
This would all lead to an impressive Olympic career: he has won multiple medals, winning gold in the 2016 Olympics in Rio for his 02:08:44 finish time in the Olympic marathon. And of course, he broke the official world marathon record in the 2018 Berlin marathon with a 2:01:39 time. He still holds that record.
But how did this hardworking man of modest beginnings rise to become such a dominant marathon runner? A lot of it has to do with his training and diet.
Eliud Kipchoge’s pre-marathon Training
In an article about Eliud Kipchoge’s pre-marathon Training, the author of the article was surprised to find just how slow Eliod runs when he trains (relatively speaking). This means that he understands the optimal balance between intensity and rest. As the author of the aforementioned article noticed, Kipchoge and his training team never did back-to-back days of intense running.
Eliud likes to be as well-rounded a runner as possible. This means combining both endurance and speed together. That’s how he keeps such record-setting paces for so long during his marathon runs. Right before his world record 2018 run in Berlin, he made sure to get close to 115 miles every week, consistently.
Eliud says that being a marathon runner is more about the heart and mind than it is muscle. His training reflects that!
Eliud Kipchoge’s Nutrition
In his book on Kipchoge, Matt Inglis Fox says that almost all of Eliud’s diet is based on plants and whole foods. In fact, Eliud rarely eats meat. And his diet, like many Kenyans, consists of ugali, manage, cabbage, bread, and beans, among other non-meat based foods.
Does this mean you have to adopt a full (or nearly) vegetarian diet to get the same sort of success in your marathon times? No! But making sure you get your leafy greens and take adequate supplements is definitely the way to organize your diet.
The fueling strategy during a sub 2 marathon
The strategy was similar to the one applied during his World Record race in Berlin 2018. Every 3 miles Eliud received a bottle containing 250 milliliters of Drink Mix 320 with a GEL 100 attached.
This enabled Eliud Kipchoge to choose his source of energy, during the run. The bottles have been collected and will be measured in order to analyze the exact carbohydrate and fluid intake. This was a team effort and the 41 pacers that helped to minimize air resistance also had access to the Maurten range during preparations and the attempt, to ensure that carbohydrates levels were maintained.
Eliud’s Record in Berlin
The official record that he obtained in Berlin still stands at 2:01:39. Recently it was almost beaten in this year’s race by Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia, who had a time of 2:01:41. That’s just 2 seconds short of the mark!
Because Berlin is so flat, it’s a great destination for those trying to break records. And speaking of breaking records, I recently shaved off a lot of minutes on my own personal best at the Berlin Marathon. Make sure to check out my experience at the race this year. It was one to remember!
Sabrina Wieser is a running expert based in New York City and the founder of Runningbrina - She is a USATF Level 3 and IAAF Level 5 Endurance Certified Coach and experienced marathon runner. She completed over 35 long-distance races and helped over 200 clients to cross their personal finish line. Her expertise in enhancing running performance through training and nutrition has been recognized by many within the running community and different media outlets such as Huffington Post, the Dr Oz Show and adidas running.