After missing the 2-hour mark by less than a second per mile in the Nike Breaking 2 event in 2017, Eliud Kipchoge just ran 1:59:40. It’s one of those once-in-a-generation feats that redefines what a human can do, But now that he’s opened up the adjacent possible, it’s just a matter of time before it happens in competition and even becomes a new standard (just like the 4-minute mile).
It’s also the perfect demonstration of the compounding effect of small changes and optimisations – perfect weather conditions, a straight, flat course, a specifically (re-)designed Nike shoe with carbon inserts to increase rebound, having cyclists deliver water bottles so Eliud didn’t have to slow down at water stations, and using elite runners to break the wind and maintain the pace behind an electric car that projected the race pace onto the road.
And if anybody was going to do it, it was Kipchoge. There’s no doubt that he’s superhuman, starting from a position of near-perfect VO2 max, running efficiency, and mindset. But even then, it takes a team to make all of this happen.