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Will a 2-hour marathon be run in 2017?

Set in 2014, the world record for a standard 26.2 marathon is 2:02:57. Looking to push the limits of human performance, Nike announced in December 2016 a concerted effort, called Breaking2, to complete a marathon in under two hours in 2017. The Oregon company enlisted the help of three of the world's best marathoners: Eritrean Zersenay Tadese, Ethiopian Lelisa Desisa, and Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge. As of this writing, the date of the attempt had not yet been announced.

The world-record marathon time is already a major human achievement, and pushing against the two-hour mark requires shaving off an additional 3% off the world-record time. Nike is engineering the perfect conditions for a marathon, including a cool track, aerodynamic clothing, and the perfect nutrition and training regimen.

Despite all Nike can do, however, they may be limited by the upper limits of what the body is capable of. A 1991 paper hypothesized that the fastest a human could possibly run a marathon was 1:57:58.

Will one of Nike's Breaking2 runners complete a marathon in under two hours in 2017?

This question will resolve as positive if Nike reports, and an independent body verifies, that a runner completed a 26.2 mile marathon course in less than two hours on or before Dec. 31, 2017.


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