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Big names in running comprise roster of pacers set to lead Nike’s Breaking2 attempt

A look at who is assigned pacing duties for Nike's Breaking2, a project aimed at eclipsing the two-hour mark in the marathon.

Nike Breaking2 Live Stream

Nike’s sub-two-hour marathon attempt is next weekend and the quest for a 1:59:59 (or faster) will be led by some of the greatest distance runners in the world.


As race date, May 6, approaches, information about the pacing strategy and the pacers is being revealed. This past Monday, a list, in part, was posted to Twitter showing some of the names involved in the sub-two-hour project.

There will be a number of different groups who will pace Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge, two-time Boston winner Lelisa Desisa and half-marathon world record holder Zersenay Tadese at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza F1 track in Italy. There, the three accomplished distance runners will be aided by the pace makers and the Nike VaporFly Elite, a controversial shoe designed specifically for the marathon attempt.

The current world record, 2:02:57, will need to be improved by more than two per cent if any of the three runners hope to go under two hours. The average pace per kilometre necessary for a 1:59:59 marathon is 2:50 whereas the current world record averages out to 2:55 per kilometre.

The recently-revealed team of pacers, which Cuan Walker posted to Twitter, features top Nike athletes. Walker says that the list is not exhaustive. Perhaps the most intriguing name on the list is five-time Olympian Bernard Lagat, who retired from professional track last year. The Kenyan-born American, who at the time of retirement said he would continue running on the roads, is the second fastest ever over 1,500m and is a two-time Olympic medallist. His half-marathon lifetime best is 1:02:33.


Other notable names include IAAF World U20 champion Selemon Barega, two-time Olympian for Australia Collis Birmingham, 2016 Toronto Waterfront Marathon champion Philemon Rono and many others.

There was a briefing on the pace strategies today, which one Twitter user called “pacing school.”

As can be seen in the tweet, pacing groups will be subbed in and out at given intervals. That means runners will be rested for each of their assigned duties. Note that the circuit on which the sub-two attempt is being held is 2.4K, meaning the marathon is 17.5 laps.

It appears that there will be six, possibly more, pacers at a time in front of the three Breaking2 athletes. Canadian Running will be on-site for the race and will be providing updates as often as possible.

Known pacers

Red pacing group

– Chris Derrick (27:31.38 10,000m)
– Sam Chelanga (27:08.49 10,000m)
– Andrew Bumbalough (13:12.01 5,000m)

Green pacing group

– Teklemariam Medhin (27:16.69 10,000m)
– Nguse Tesfaldet (2014 African 10,000m champion)
– Aron Kifle (Silver in the 10,000m at the 2016 IAAF U20 Championships)

Blue pacing group

– Dejene Debela (2:10:13 marathon)
– Abayneh Ayele (Fourth at the 2016 IAAF World Half-Marathon Championships)
– Tadu Abate Deme (1:00:46 half-marathon)

Purple pacing group

– Collis Birmingham (Two-time Olympian)
– Selemon Barega (2016 IAAF U20 5,000m champion)
– Alex Oloitiptip Korio (59:28 half-marathon)

Purple pacing group

– Gideon Kipketer (2016 Mumbai Marathon champion)
– Stephen Sambu (26:54.61 10,000m)
– Stephen Mokoka (2016 African 10,000m champion)

Yellow pacing group

– Bernard Lagat (Five-time Olympian, two-time world outdoor champion)
– Philemon Rono Cherop (2016 Toronto Waterfront Marathon champion)
– Abdi Nageeye (11th in the marathon at the 2016 Olympics)