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Marathon World Record Progression and the Looming Two Hour Barrier

Updated on October 23, 2014

Dennis Kimetto's scorching world record run of 2:02:57 at the 2014 Berlin Marathon renewed debate about the possibility of breaking 2 hours in the marathon. Prior to Kimetto's record the debate focused on when the 2:03:00 barrier would be broken. Geoffrey Mutai and Moses Mosop nearly eclipsed that barreir on the record ineligible Boston Marathon course on a day when tailwinds aided them on the point-to-point route. Kimetto's stellar performance settled the debate and now has fans of the sport looking to the future

Marathon Record Progression

2:04:26 Haile Gebrselassie September 30, 2007 Berlin Marathon

2:03:59 Haile Gebrselassie September 28, 2008 Berlin Marathon

2:03:38 Patrick Makau September 25, 2011 Berlin Marathon

2:03:23 Wilson Kipsang September 29, 2013 Berlin Marathon

2:02:57 Dennis Kimetto September 28, 2014 Berlin Marathon

If current trends continue the athlete is anyone's guess, but count on it happening in Berlin. This course is run during an ideal time of year when cooler temperatures are conducive to setting personal records. The course is flat and runs fast. While other marathons may lure athletes away for a chance at a prize purse or different competition, athletes going for the record have made Berlin their place of choice. African-born athletes continue to dominate the fastest times, but are unlikely to run fast times in the thin air at altitude in their native countries.

Kimetto's world record average pace calculates to be 4:41.5 per mile. With just 3 minutes faster needed to break the 2 hour barrier over a 26.2 mile course that boils down to a required mile pace of just under 4:35. World class athletes frequently maintain this pace and faster for shorter races, so the body is capable of moving that quickly, but the question remains as to whether any runner can come along to run efficiently enough at high speeds to have the right kind of physiological fuel to break the 2 hour barrier.

Will the sub-2 hour barrier be broken in your lifetime?

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Dennis Kimetto and the 2014 Berlin Marathon

© 2014 Joe Dowgiallo

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