VIENNA — On a misty Saturday morning in Vienna, on a course specially chosen for speed, in an athletic spectacle of historic proportions, Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya ran 26.2 miles in a once-inconceivable time of 1 hour 59 minutes 40 seconds.
It was already known that Kipchoge is an extraordinary athlete. He merely pressed home the point on a misty morning in Austria. With the clock stopped and a sporting world looking on with awe, the 34-year-old Kenyan displayed all the physical strain of having walked for the morning papers.
“I felt a lot of pressure yesterday,” Kipchoge admitted. “I received a lot of calls of encouragement from all over the world. The president of Kenya called me. When you receive so many calls from high-profile people, there is pressure.” Kipchoge described the period between a 4.50am wake-up call and his scheduled 8.15am start as the toughest of his life. What followed resembled blissful simplicity.
Cheered on by a thick crowd of spectators, he was lifted into the air by members of his team, including the 41 professional runners who had acted as pacesetters during the run.