This month’s review is on a film rather than a book and is the The Last Milestone docu-film of Eliud Kipchoge’s attempt to run the marathon in under 2 hours.

Many may see this is as just one man’s quest to beat the 2 hour barrier for the marathon, something not yet achieved. The current world record is 2 hours, 1 minute and 39 seconds and is already held by Kipchoge.

However, it is so much more than this. Of course, you cannot underestimate the ability of Kipchoge. He is a marathon master and record holder and won the recent Gold Medal at the Tokyo Olympics.

To put it into context, to run under a 2 hour marathon you need to be able to run every mile in under 4 minutes, 34.6 seconds. As many of you may know I run marathons but even the notion of running 1 mile anywhere near that speed would put me in A&E!!!

A Team Achievement

However, this attempt was so much more than just one man’s efforts. This was an absolute and complete team effort and the film really goes into this in a lot of detail. The project was called the INEOS 1:59 Challenge.

The team was led by the world famous Sir Dave Brailsford, who was the CEO of the Challenge and every aspect of the challenge was meticulously planned with military precision and using every ounce of science available via an elite team of carefully selected experts. This included the following:

  • The shoes – developed by Nike
  • The pace makers – the who and how they ran and how many
  • The formation shape of where the runners are in order to minimise the airflow
  • The choice of course
  • The vehicle out front with a laser on the road showing where the time limit line was
  • The weather
  • The food and hydration
  • The mind and the mental side of the challenge

Marginal Gains to Achieve Success

It is worth pointing out that the first attempt failed. I say failed, but the time was actually 26 seconds over the 2 hours so whilst it did not break the 2 hour barrier, it was still a super human achievement.

This sent them back to re look at every aspect and look for those marginal gains, which Brailsford is so good at finding with his team.

Spoiler alert if you had not been aware of this challenge, but Kipchoge did run the challenge in under 2 hours on the second attempt; in fact in 1 hour, 59 minutes and 40.2 seconds. This was on 12th October 2019 in Vienna.

It will not go down as a world record in the running books because it was not an official race, but it was more about the challenge to see if it could be done.

There is a website https://www.ineos159challenge.com . which provides a lot of background, information and videos on the challenge, but the film is the one that really pulls it all together. Worth a watch.