Earlier this week, Nike announced Breaking2, an initiative to break the two-hour barrier in the marathon that is more than two years in the making. According to the Wall Street Journal, Adidas has also been working on its own sub-two project.
It’s being reported that the Adidas project, like Nike’s Breaking2 plan, is “at least two years in development.” The sportswear brand is believed to have already developed the prototype of a shoe that will be worn during the attempt.
However, unlike Breaking2, Adidas plans to help one of its current athletes break the two-hour barrier in the marathon on an established course. Current Adidas athletes include world record holder Dennis Kimetto, who has run 2:02:57, and Wilson Kipsang, a 2:03:13 man. Nike’s goal is to stage an attempt in 2017 on a yet-to-be-announced course, though the WSJ reports that it will not be world record eligible.
Nike has recruited three of its athletes, Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa, and Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadese, to attempt a two-hour marathon sometime in 2017.
The two-hour barrier in the men’s marathon has become a hot topic of late as sports scientists and running experts debate on when the barrier may be broken. The current men’s world record would need to be improved by two-and-a-half per cent to hit the 1:59 mark. The average pace for 1:59:59 works out to approximately 2:50-2:51 per kilometre for 42.2K.
Adidas already had a sub-2 shoe made, but there was internal dispute about how to market it. Company didn't want it to conflict w/ Boost /2
— Sara Germano (@germanotes) December 16, 2016
Much of the talk on a possible 1:59 clocking centres on what technology can be developed to help runners shave valuable seconds, if not minutes, off their times. In a battle between two major sportswear brands, the previous four men to have held the men’s world record in the marathon have been Adidas athletes.
The WSJ report on Adidas investing in a two-hour marathon attempt is the third such project in addition to Nike’s Breaking2 as well as Sub2, another team which is working with long-distance great Kenenisa Bekele.