There has been a lot of hue and cry lately about Nike’s and their athlete’s attempt to break 2:00:00 hours for the marathon distance. So I will add my two cents into the dithering and expounding on and on about this event from a middle of the pack runner, who has no experience with professional, collegiate or high levels of running.
First of all, this is not a race. The participants are only running against one another, attempting to keep up with professional rabbits hired to maintain a certain pace for a limited amount of time and the only competition is the clock. I don’t believe that there will be too many other runners on this course during the time trial.
In other words it is a time trial.
I think that most of us see this as simply an exhibition to see if a runner can run 26.2 miles in under 2:00:00 hours. They have chosen a particular course to be fast, will run the exhibition on one of three days and use rabbits extensively during the run. They are controlling as many of the external variables as possible to give their athletes the best chance to break 2:00:00.
Good on them.
Personally, I think the athletes will hold the necessary pace until the last 5K and then one or two will blow up and at least one runner will get close. If and it is a big if, the conditions remain perfect for the 2:00:00 hours.
However, I will naively ask.
Is this so vastly different from some of the major marathons that also provide rabbits to the lead runners (who have trained specifically for a fast marathon), on a fast course and quality competition, other than it is not an actual competition and very limited number of runners are running?
However, there is a huge negative from where I sit, there will not be millions of spectators cheering them on, like there are at major marathons.
It just be ghastly quiet and all that the runners will hear are their own footsteps, breathing, the pace vehicle, some coaching and an occasional cheer from a wayward spectator. It will be harder without the crowd support, but at the same time that is how they have trained for this exhibition.
At first I thought of this attempt as a side show and circus attempt by Nike to get attention for their company and if that is the only thing are really attempting to accomplish here, well they they have done pretty well in the running community, but for the public at large – they don’t give a rat’s arse about this at all.
However, I don’t think is just about Nike, their marketing department or even their athletes breaking 2:00:00.
From my perspective as an outsider, it more about showing others that it can be done, and pushing the limits of human performance. I ain’t even going to get into the better performance through modern chemistry angle/tangent that some want to go down. Either the runners in this event are clean or they are dirty and eventually we will know one way or the other, just like other major running events over the past few years.
The biggest gain if they can break 2:00:00 hours it that the mental barriers for breaking 2:00:00 will be gone and other runners will eventually do it again – in a real race, not just an exhibition.
Nike has invested big bucks, the athletes have skipped big name races and invested lots of time/effort training for the attempt. I say good on them and I will be interested to see how it goes.
No, I will not consider it a new Marathon world record and I am pretty sure that the governing bodies that care about such things will not either, because it was done in a time trial, not a true competition. However, if one of the Nike athletes can break 2:00:00 hours for 26.2 miles then they will hold the title of the World’s fastest marathoner until someone else has a better time.
Bust on Nike all you want, but I am impressed that the runners are willing to attempt it. I imagine that the bonus if they do break 2:00:00 will be substantial and should be.
However, don’t expect me to pay $250 for a pair of shoes. 🙂
Just a few thoughts from a nobody runner.