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The race is on to run sub two-hour marathon

23 August 2017 - 13:31 By Claire Keeton
Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge reacts after crossing the finish line to win the elite men's race of the 2016 London Marathon in central London on April 24, 2016. Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya set a new course record in winning the London Marathon for the second straight year on Sunday. The former track star clocked an unofficial time of 2hrs 03mins 05secs, just eight seconds shy of the world record set by fellow Kenyan Dennis Kimetto at the Berlin Marathon in September 2014.
Kenya's Eliud Kipchoge reacts after crossing the finish line to win the elite men's race of the 2016 London Marathon in central London on April 24, 2016. Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya set a new course record in winning the London Marathon for the second straight year on Sunday. The former track star clocked an unofficial time of 2hrs 03mins 05secs, just eight seconds shy of the world record set by fellow Kenyan Dennis Kimetto at the Berlin Marathon in September 2014.
Image: JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP

Running a marathon in two hours without drugs can be achieved in the next five years said UCT scientist Professor Andrew Bosch at the Africa launch of the Sub2-hour marathon project on Tuesday night.

Kenyan Dennis Kimetto holds the world marathon record of 02:02: 57 set in Berlin in 2014.

“Running sub two hours is to the marathon what sub four minutes was to the mile some 60 years ago‚” said Bosch at the Sports Science Institute of SA in Cape Town. “It’s no longer if but when.”

SSISA co-founder Professor Tim Noakes threw his weight behind the project‚ suggesting they talk to track star Wayde van Niekerk about his mental training.

“You have to convince the brain it is possible‚” he said.

Noakes said studies showed that the brain controls the muscles and the mind would be the greatest hurdle to breaking the two-hour barrier.

Only 46 days after Roger Bannister broke the “impossible” four minute mile barrier‚ it was done again by Canadian runner John Landy.

To break two hours would be like running eight and a half consecutive 5km park runs at 14.13 minutes each‚ said Dr Dave Maralack‚ head of UCT’s sports management course.

In May this year Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge ran a 2:00:25 marathon in a Nike-sponsored challenge.

The International Association of Athletic Federations did not recognise his record because of a non-compliant pacemaking and rehydration on the course.

Bosch said: “The Nike project took a big chunk off the time. This has shown (sub2) is certainly possible.” Nike ran with the sub2 quest dreamed up by Professor Yannis Pitsiladis‚ a sports scientist from the University of Brighton in the UK‚ launched in 2014.

Speaking about the “original” sub2 project‚ Pitsiladis said Kenenisa Bekele was the man to watch at the Berlin marathon in September. Ethiopian Bekele is the world record holder for the 5‚000m and 10‚000m.

The sub2 team is bringing multidisciplinary expertise — in fields like sports medicine‚ biomechanics and nutrition — to the athletes to improve their performance.

From the UCT Division of Exercise Science and Sports Medicine‚ Bosch said: “You mustn’t ever think that the world’s best athletes are surrounded by all these experts. They aren’t.”

He said‚ for example‚ they do not routinely work with sports psychologists.

Noakes said that coaches must believe the sub-two goal was possible to get the runners up to speed‚ like Bannister’s coach did with him.

Legendary runner Haile Gebrselassie believes it is achievable. He asked the Sub2 team why they had not launched the project earlier so he could have attempted it.

- TimesLIVE

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