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Kip­choge com­pleting a marathon. | Zee News

The elite dis­tance runners con­tinue to wow the world, and Sunday was no dif­ferent at the New York City Marathon.

Joy­ciline Jep­kosgei, 25, of Kenya became the youngest woman to win the NYC Marathon since 2001. She’s also the only woman to win the NYC Marathon and Half Marathon, which she won back in March. Kenya had a great showing in the men’s division as well, taking first and second places. Geoffrey Kam­woror won the race in 2 hours, 8 minutes and 13 seconds.

The New York City Marathon, however, didn’t receive nearly the amount of attention as Eliud Kipchoge’s impressive — yet over­rated — marathon in Austria on Oct. 12.

Perhaps Kip­choge deserved the amount of attention he received, as he did some­thing no human has ever done before: He com­pleted a marathon in less than two hours. After a pre­vious attempt in 2017, he finally suc­ceeded with a time of 1:59.40. That’s 26.2 miles at a 4:33.8 per mile pace.

Despite this amazing feat, the 34-year old Kenyan tech­ni­cally didn’t even break his own world record of 2:01:39 because of the level of assis­tance he received during his stunt in the streets of Vienna.

During the race, seven other runners sur­rounded Kip­choge in a V‑shape, oper­ating as pace­setters and wind blockers. The course they ran on had been leveled out ahead of time, ensuring an even surface with limited hills. And they fol­lowed a car with a green laser shining on the ground to show them where they needed to be to keep on pace.

Kip­choge com­pared it to going to the moon, and his achievement received about as much cov­erage as any moon landing would. The pres­ident of Kenya tweeted, “You’ve done it, you’ve made history and made Kenya proud while at it…” He’s even going to name a street after Kip­choge.

This is not the event Kip­choge ought to be remem­bered for, though. He has done far more than follow a pace car in a per­fectly orga­nized race to break the 2‑hour barrier. He nearly broke that barrier on his own in a com­pet­itive race just over a year ago, but that didn’t receive nearly the same attention as Saturday’s fixed run.

Kip­choge won major marathons across the globe, including races in Chicago, London, and Berlin. He earned gold in the marathon at the 2016 Rio Olympics. His world record of 2:01:39 in 2018 smashed the pre­vious by one minute and 17 seconds. He is the greatest male marathoner of all time, but it’s not because he was the first human to run a marathon in under two hours.

Everyone ought to remember the day Kip­choge crossed the finish line to set the world record in Berlin. This was a true race — a large com­pet­itive field of runners behind him, no wind blocks, no pace cars, and no alter­ations to the course.

Kip­choge won that 2018 Berlin race by a mile, lit­erally. Fellow Kenyan Amos Kipruto took second place, fin­ishing in 2:06:48. At Kipruto’s pace of 4:49 per mile, he couldn’t close the five-minute gap that sep­a­rated him from Kip­choge.

Let’s also remember that Kip­choge was 33 years old when he set that record. Out of the top 20 ath­letes to run any marathon in 2018, only five others were born in the 1980s, and only one was older than Kip­choge. He’s not only the best, but he’s been one of the best for the longest.

He has managed to stay com­pet­itive since he began his pro­fes­sional career in 2002, and more impres­sively, he’s run a marathon each year since he began com­peting in the event in 2013. Most pro­fes­sional runners struggle to stay healthy enough for that long to compete at such a level for that many con­sec­utive years.

Kip­choge is nearing a 20-year long career, beating the average NBA career of 4.5 years and an NFL career of 3.3 years. Granted, he’s not enduring physical contact with other people, but he has been running more than a hundred miles a week for years.

Running is a taxing sport, never mind running 26.2 miles at a pace faster than most people could ever run one, and Kip­choge has put his body under such stress for nearly two decades and handled it incredibly well. He was already the best before Sat­urday, and running with pace­setters, pace cars, a flat course, and wind blockers doesn’t prove he’s any better.

Calli Townsend is a junior studying sports man­agement and is an assistant sports editor for The Col­legian.