Following Thursday’s announcement that Eliud Kipchoge’s attempt to break the two-hour barrier for the marathon will shift from England to Austria, Kenyan distance running legend Henry Rono believes the Olympic champion has what it takes to dip under the iconic 2:00:00.
Organisers announced that Kipchoge’s attempt, popularly known as the “INEOS 1:59 Challenge” will be held in Vienna on October 12 because the Austrian capital has a “fast and flat track.”
Should conditions not be ideal on October 12, a “reserve window” running until October 20 has been provided.
According to a statement from Kipchoge’s management — Global Sports Communication (GSC) — Thursday, other reasons for shifting the location of the attempt from the initial one in England included “consistent and optimum performance weather conditions in October, fresh air, wide, traffic-free and illuminated roads, ability to have supporters lining the route.”
The fact that the new course in “The Prater” in the heart of the Austrian capital is within a three-hour time difference of where Kipchoge trains in Kenya, and “a proactive and welcoming local mayor and experienced Vienna Marathon team” were also cited as reasons for the decision.
Kipchoge, who also holds the world marathon record (two hours, one minute and 39 seconds), is preparing for his record attempt at his north Rift training camp in Kaptagat.
“I’ve been informed Vienna has a fast and flat course, nicely protected by trees. The course is as well situated in the heart of this beautiful city which will enable a great number of spectators to be part of this historical event.”
Kipchoge’s fresh attempt is backed by British chemical manufacturer, INEOS.
“Eliud Kipchoge is the greatest ever marathon runner and the only athlete in the world who has any chance of beating the two-hour time,” Sir Jim Ratcliffe, chairman of INEOS, says in the GSC statement.
In the first attempt at the Nike-engineered “Breaking2” project in Monza, Italy, in May, 2017, Kipchoge, 35, powered by a cocktail of pacemakers on the Monza Formula One racetrack, ran two hour and 25 seconds, falling agonisingly close to breaking the two-hour barrier.
The Prater athletics track (the Vienna Athletics Centre) was also the location for Henry Rono’s 10,000 metres world record in 1978. Rono ran 27:22:05 to break the world record in Vienna and is confident if conditions are right, Kipchoge will go down in history as a sub-2:00:00 marathoner.
MULTI-LAP, 9.6KM COURSE
“For Kip to break world record in Vienna is not a problem, the timing is very important. You have to use it while still in your body,” Rono, 67, told Nation Sport ön telephone from his base in USA.
A good crowd is expected in Vienna, a stark contrast from the conditions Rono ran under some 41 years ago.
“I didn’t have the crowds (in 1978). It was only about 10 people watching … I went there to pick up a 10,000 meters world record and that was the last record I needed before it disappeared from my body,” Rono added.
Kipchoge’s Vienna attempt will be held on a multi-lap, 9.6 kilometre course centred on Hauptallee, the iconic long, straight and tree-lined avenue which runs through the heart of The Prater,, organisers explained.