Breaking the barrier

First sub-2 hour marathon

In the fall of 2019, 42 athletes will gather in Vienna. One of them is about to make history. Eliud Kipchoge wants to be the first human being to cover the classic marathon distance of 42.195 kilometres in less than 2 hours. A challenge that everyone considered to be impossible just a few years earlier.

At 08:15 on 12 October, the starting gun sounds. Under the watchful eye of a small group of spectators, Eliud takes off. Around him runs a small army of pace setters, also known as rabbits.

Celebrating Eliud Kipchoge after world record INEOS 1:59 Challenge
Eliud Kipchoge runs with rabbits at the INEOS 1:59 Challenge
Happy Eliud Kipchoge gives a hug after breaking a world record

Those rabbits have a strategic purpose: to keep today's star out of the wind. In a Y formation - 5 in front, 2 behind - they reduce the air resistance around Kipchoge. That there is not a breath of wind in Vienna on the day of the record attempt is, of course, no coincidence.

27 minutes later, Kipchoge crossed the start line again for the first time. By now, the number of fans there has grown considerably. In large numbers, they encourage the lightning-fast king of the marathon. Fans also take up the challenge this day. For the INEOS 1:59 Challenge, more than 10,000 people will predict the time in which he will cross the finish line. The person with the correct answer will have a chance to win Kipchoge's signed shirt. A collector's item.

With this challenge, NN Running Team collects valuable data, which they can use to build fan profiles and target future campaigns even better. Capital Sports is responsible for the creation, design and technical implementation of this successful activation. We are also closely following the events in the Austrian capital. From the sidelines, we are encouraging Kipchoge.

He is running perfectly on schedule. You can tell by the laser lines projected on the road surface. These lines come from the laser pacer car, which drives ahead of the group to help the hares maintain the right pace.

Nothing left to chance
Again, nothing was left to chance. Professor Bert Blocken of TU Eindhoven was brought in to calculate the ideal formation. Using his knowledge of air resistance and aerodynamics, he calculated the conditions under which Kipchoge runs in the wind as little as possible. In a wind tunnel, he tested his findings. On his advice, the Audi e-tron drives 15 metres ahead of the group to ensure optimal airflow towards the group of marathon runners.

At 09:15, the Kenyan is over half the total distance. With 9 seconds ahead of schedule, hope ánd excitement grow among the ever-growing crowd. Light rain is falling, but that cannot disturb Kipchoge as a seasoned athlete. Because even though the record attempt may take place in Austria, the group runs with the regularity of a Swiss timepiece. They cover each kilometre in a time of 2 minutes and 50 seconds.

Every detail counts
It is the attention to detail that ensures that after 30 kilometres, Kipchoge is still on track to make the impossible possible. One not insignificant detail is the latest Nike AlphaFly shoes that shine on the athlete's lightning-fast feet. The brand claims these are the fastest shoes ever made. The fact that the road surface of the 9.6-kilometre route has been resurfaced for this record attempt no doubt helps too.

At 10:00 am, the last change of pace makers takes place. To loud cheers from the crowd in attendance, five-time Olympian and close friend of Kipchoge Bernard Lagat joins in. Not a trace of fatigue is yet to be seen on the face of the Kenyan protagonist. How different it is on the faces of the spectators. You can read the tension from there. Yet there is no reason to worry: Kipchoge is still running like a machine.

10 minutes later, he passes the 40-kilometre mark. With 2,195 metres to go, the record attempt can hardly go wrong. At least, so it seems. In 2017, Kipchoge was still 25 seconds short of breaking the magic barrier at the Italian track in Monza. Will he finally succeed today? He is still some 10 seconds below the target time of 1:59:59. The prospects are good.

At 10:14, the finish line comes into view. After a final final sprint, the Kenyan makes the inhuman possible. In a time of 1:59:40, he storms across the finish line. Euphoria erupts among the crowd. Kipchoge grabs the Kenyan flag to thank them. Emotional images go around the world. What an unprecedented achievement has been achieved here. Afterwards, the living legend once again repeats his motto: no human is limited.

About NN Running Team

Not so long ago, running was an individual sport. Until NN Running Team changed that in 2017. Former athlete Jos Hermens decided that long-distance and marathon runners are stronger as a team, and founded the world's first professional running team. In doing so, he started a revolution.

Soon, top athletes like Eliud Kipchoge, Kenenisa Bekele and Abdi Nageeye joined the team. With such names, of course, success was just a matter of time. In recent years, NN Running Team was able to win many marathons, Olympic 5,000, and 10,000 metres and set multiple world records. The top performances follow each other in rapid succession.

Capital Sports was involved in this successful project from the start. Together with Global Sports Communication, we ensure that not only runners are ahead in their races, but that the marketing also outshines the competition. Together, we bind and captivate fans around the world.

The goal of NN Running Team is to further professionalise the running sport. This increases its attractiveness to fans and sponsors. This professionalisation is also reflected in the communication. Through campaigns, websites, apps and activations, we are increasing the fan base to boost NN Running Team, the fans and the athletes.

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