In Summary

  • Last weekend, American sportswear manufacturer Nike pulled off a huge marketing scoop around their much trumpeted “Breaking2” project in which three top marathon runners were sieved out of an elite group of 18 in an attempt to break the two-hour barrier over the iconic 42-kilometre distance.
  • Neither did Kevin Hart, the celebrated, pint-sized celebrity comedian bitten by the running bug flown in to Monza by Nike to (hopefully) pump up the race with (sometimes) humorous ringside interjections. Not even the post-race MC, a certain Carl Lewis, spoke about Samuel Kipkogei Kiplagat.
  • See, Samuel is Kipchoge’s cook at the athlete’s Kaptagat Training Camp which is managed by Global Sports Communications, and was, needless to say, as integral to the project as were the scientists at Nike’s labs in Beaverton, Oregon.

Last weekend, American sportswear manufacturer Nike pulled off a huge marketing scoop around their much trumpeted “Breaking2” project in which three top marathon runners were sieved out of an elite group of 18 in an attempt to break the two-hour barrier over the iconic 42-kilometre distance.

Kenya’s Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge, Eritrea’s world half marathon record holder Zersenay Tadese and Ethiopia’s double Boston Marathon winner Lelisa Desisa were used as “guinea pigs” in Nike’s thoroughly researched and well thought out, two-year project.

This combination of pictures created on May 5, 2017 shows Eritrea's Zersenay Tadese (left) competing during the half marathon final event in the 11th Africa Games in Brazzaville on September 17, 2015, Ethiopia's Lelisa Desisa (centre) running in the New York City Marathon on November 2, 2014 and Kenyan elite runner Eliud Kipchoge competing during the 2015 London Marathon in central London on April 26, 2015.  PHOTO | MONIRUL BHUIYAN |

This combination of pictures created on May 5, 2017 shows Eritrea's Zersenay Tadese (left) competing during the half marathon final event in the 11th Africa Games in Brazzaville on September 17, 2015, Ethiopia's Lelisa Desisa (centre) running in the New York City Marathon on November 2, 2014 and Kenyan elite runner Eliud Kipchoge competing during the 2015 London Marathon in central London on April 26, 2015. PHOTO | MONIRUL BHUIYAN |

The experiment, on the “Autodrome Nazionale Monza”  Formula One racing track, under perfect Italian dawn conditions, was a painfully piercing 25 seconds off tangent with Kipchoge outlasting Desisa and Tadese to clock 2:00:24 in an amazing run orchestrated by a cocktail of pacemakers who peeled off and rejoined the lead pack in perfectly choreographed, pit-stop fashion.

They ran 17-and-a-half, 2.4-kilometre laps. So meticulously planned was the attempt that we are even told Kipchoge was made to swallow a pill injected with a chip that monitored his internal body temperature, while his muscle oxygen, lactose tolerance and other factors were lab-tested to make sure he was “sub-two compliant.”

Tadese finished in a 2:06:51 PB while a lapped Desisa clocked 2:14:10.Breathtaking stuff!

The pacers ran behind a prototype sports car, piloted by a thoroughly briefed driver, and which beamed a green laser line marker indicating the required sub-two pace.

Kipchoge’s speed and consistency mirrored Juan Pablo Montoya’s fastest ever formula one lap record clocked on this very Monza circuit in the 2004 Italian Grand Prix.

But while all the attention was on the science and technology, and the custom-made Nike “Vaporfly Elite” shoe worn by the “guinea pig” trio and their pacers, lead car laser, chip-in-the intestine, et al, nothing, sadly, was said of one man crucial to the “Breaking2” project.

Not even Great Britain’s women’s marathon sensation Paula Radcliffe and her team in the commentary booth of the live-streamed, history-making race mentioned him in their two-and-a-half hour commentary.

Neither did Kevin Hart, the celebrated, pint-sized celebrity comedian bitten by the running bug flown in to Monza by Nike to (hopefully) pump up the race with (sometimes) humorous ringside interjections. Not even the post-race MC, a certain Carl Lewis, spoke about Samuel Kipkogei Kiplagat.

Eliud Kipchoge’s chef, Samuel Kipkogei Kiplagat, at the Global Sports Communication Camp in Kaptagat, Elgeyo-Marakwet County. PHOTO | ELIAS MAKORI |

Eliud Kipchoge’s chef, Samuel Kipkogei Kiplagat, at the Global Sports Communication Camp in Kaptagat, Elgeyo-Marakwet County. PHOTO | ELIAS MAKORI |

See, Samuel is Kipchoge’s cook at the athlete’s Kaptagat Training Camp which is managed by Global Sports Communications, and was, needless to say, as integral to the project as were the scientists at Nike’s labs in Beaverton, Oregon.

In fact, he deserved to be ringside in Monza, rather than the selfie-seeking joyriders we saw live-streamed. (Incidentally, I wonder who no Kenyan, Eritrean or Ethiopian athletics journalist was accredited by Nike.

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