Sunday, September 28, 2014

Is sub - 2hr possible for Marathon? - New World Record Broken is 2hr 02min 57sec.

Is a Sub-2 hour Marathon possible? History may shed some light

By Rameshon

May 21, I have written an article on breaking the sub-2hours, is it possible? 

News Today

Kenyan Dennis Kimetto, 30, broke Wilson Kipsang's marathon world record by 26 seconds in Berlin today, coming in first in a time of 2hr 02min 57sec.
Dennis was able to pull away from Mutai, the former world record holder (2hr 03min 38sec, 2011 Berlin Marathon) with about  four kilometers to finish. Dennis became the first man to complete the race in less than two hours and three minutes. As for Mutai, he also did a personal best time. 
Since 2007, the world record has been broken in Berlin Marathon about 5 times already and it is now known as the fastest international marathon course in the world. 
Tirfi Tsegaye won the women's race in two hours, 20 minutes and 18 seconds, seven seconds, beating her fellow Ethiopian Feyse Tadese in the race.  

As for Flexifitness, Jonathan Kang ran the race. With his previous marathon best of 3hr 04min, he was planning to do a sub-3hr 04min, with his minimal training mileage. Lim Thow Wee send a sms to me that Jonathan did a time of 3hr 02min 56sec. 

Flexifitness would like to congratulate Jonathan Kang for his fine performance. 

Sub - 2 hours - Will this ever happen? Read on.

Picture 1 - Sri Chinmoy predicted that the world record will be sub-2hrs over time. 

The Late Sri Chinmoy (, who was Olympian Carl Lewis' guru, wrote in a book which stated that the world marathon time will get faster over time to the point that it will cross the sub-2 hour barrier. Sri Chinmoy, at around age 70, was in fact able to carry dignitaries, with one hand. He showed this feat many times to the world. Sri Chinmoy, himself, was able to do amazing incredible thing that one may say, " It is impossible". Once a newspaper article showed him carrying the then Singapore's top body builder Fantomein Ali, with just one hand, lifting him up fully. Sri Chinmoy had athletes who broke several world records and it is in the Guiness Book of World Record.  His organisation also had organised several ultramarathon races USA during in the 1990s. Some world records were set in races organised by his group. I was one of those inspired by Sri Chinmoy.

Picture 2 - Sri Chinmoy - Always believed in exercise and yoga 

Somewhere in early 1990s, I read Sri Chinmoy's book about running. He answered several of my questions on running and how to train, improve, and  how to become faster etc. He inspired me greatly  on why a runner does not have to be a non-vegetarian. He wrote too of the  diet to take if one wants to do well etc.

At that time, I knew that the world record holder was Belayneh Dinsamo from Ethiopia, who ran in Rotterdam Marathon in year 1998. Belayneh Dinsamo did 2hr 06min 50sec and broke Portugese Carlos Lopez's world record of 2hr 07min 12sec, which was set on year 1985.

In year 1993, when I was studying in Loughborough University of Technology, England, I did not believe that the world record set by Belayneh Dinsamo will be broken. At the same time, many others also felt that the time set was incredible and that it will be impossible to break the 2hr 06min 50sec barrier.

Then, in year 1998, Ronaldo Da Costa, from Brazil, amazed everyone when he ran and improved the world record to 2hr 06min 05sec, in Berlin Marathon. Shortly after, Moroccan Khalid Khannouchi broke the world marathon record to 2hr 05min 42sec in the Sept 1999 Chicago Marathon. Khalid became a USA citizen later on and he improved his time to 2hr 05min 38sec, his second time breaking the world record. He he did this in London Marathon in year 2002, Sept.

I thought that from here onwards there will be no more world records to be broken, as it was getting harder to run faster. Then came Paul Tergat of Kenya, 5 times World Cross-Country Champion appeared and he ran in Berlin Marathon, in 2003, September, and did 2hr 04min 55sec.

Picture 3 - (left to right) Daniel Ling, Khalid Khannouchi and I 

Although Paul Tergat had many incredible wins in the World Cross Country races, I still felt that no one will be able to break the world record from then on.

Picture 4 - Haile Gebreselassie and Paul Tergat, great world athletes

Subsequently, Haile Gebreselassie from Ethiopia, who had broken several world records between 1500m and half-marathon races, ran in Berlin Marathon 2007, Sept, and set the world record to 2hr 04min 26sec. Haile switched his races to 10000m to marathon. His main focus was half-marathon and marathon races.

Picture 5 - (left to right) Rameshon, Haile Gebreselassie and Daniel Ling 

From that point, Haile had several ups and downs in marathon races. His success came later to him again. With confidence in bringing the world record further, he answered to the question of a reporter on whether he can do a sub-2hr 04min barrier. He told, "I will show you!". When I was running to complete in the Berlin Marathon 2008, I heard from the announcement that Haile had broken the world record to 2hr 03min 59sec. Haile was commenting to the massive crowd on his incredible feat. That was fantastic. 

However, I did a time of 3hr 31min that year in the 2008 marathon race in Berlin. I was a bit disappointed in the race that year. It is still fresh in my mind now.

After September, with the inspirational story of Haile, doing a sub-2hr 04min, I decided to do The Standard Chartered Marathon in year 2008. In that race, all three of our group runners - consisting of myself, Daniel Ling and Dr Ben Tan - came in first, second and third, respectively. 

I did 2hr 49min at the age of 43 years of age and that was the time that Dr Ben Tan, third in the race did his sub - 3hours with us. 

Picture 6 -  (left to right) We three were first, second and third, with Daniel Ling (2nd), myself (2nd) and Dr Ben Tan (3rd) in Standard Chartered Marathon 2008. 

As for the story on progressive world records broken, I felt that the way the world record were broken were thought provoking. I was very surprised that the world record was still going to get better and better over time. 3 years later, Kenyan Patrick Makau showed that the impossible world record set by Haile could still go down. He ran in the Berlin Marathon, Sept, 2011 and he did 2hr 03min 38sec. In year 2013 year, the world record broken again and it went down to 2hr 03 min 23sec by Wilson Kipsang. The record was done in 2013 Berlin Marathon, in September. 

As the world marathon record is 2hr 02min 57sec by Kenyan Dennis Kimetto, we are left with an improvement of 2min 57sec plus to see the breaking of the sub-2hr barrier for marathon. I am firm that nothing is impossible.