Nike has announced that it will collaborate with three elite distance runners in an attempt to record the world’s first sub two-hour marathon.
The current world record time for a marathon is 2:02:57, set by Kenya’s Dennis Kimetto in 2014.
Reigning men’s Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge, two-time Boston marathon champion Lelisa Desia and half-marathon world record holder Zersenay Tadese will join Nike for the project, which is set to be called ‘Breaking2’.
Undertaking such a project represents a significant commitment from the athletes, as they will be forced to miss major marathons in London and Boston.
The date and location of the race attempt have yet to be revealed, although Nike has confirmed that Breaking2 will not take place on a sanctioned course, and therefore will not be world-record eligible.
Nike has pledged to provide the runners with apparel and footwear to improve aerodynamics, propulsion and temperature regulation, and will put together a support team including world class coaches, nutritionists and physiologists.
Nike first began working on marathon-specific footwear in 2013, and has increasingly focused on distance running in recent years, with both Adidas and Under Armour trying to gain a foothold in the market.
Breaking2 has been met with some scepticism from experts, many of whom question the legitimacy of Nike’s attempt to break the two-hour marathon mark. The brand faced the ire of the global running community in 2015 when prototype shoes it had developed for marathons fell apart during a race in Berlin.
Nike claims to have begun working on the Breaking2 project in 2014, and has carried out extensive research and development over the past two years. Faced with the prospect of being unable to engineer a sub-two-hour marathon, a company spokesperson said that “the only real failure would be not to attempt it”.