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Nike aims to make marathon history in 2017

Sportswear manufacturer Nike has recruited three elite athletes and developed new products as part of an ambitious project to achieve the first sub two-hour marathon.

The project, which it is calling Breaking2, involves reigning Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya, two-time Boston Marathon winner Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia, and Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea, who holds the world record for the half-marathon.

All three will skip the spring marathon events in London and Boston to focus on training to achieve the feat. Nike has not yet announced when or where the attempt will take place.

The company is working on a “complete product system” for the project, including footwear, apparel and socks. The aim is to assist the athletes with temperature regulation, aerodynamics and propulsion. Nike began developing marathon-specific footwear in 2013, an endeavour which eventually spawned this record attempt.  

It describes innovative product as the “critical pillar of the Breaking2 attempt” and predicted that the “ground-breaking innovation” will be beneficial to all runners. 

The current marathon world record of 2:02:57 was set by Kenya’s Dennis Kimetto in 2014. While running three minutes faster across a distance of 26.2 might not sound especially challenging, the reality is that it means shaving 7 seconds off each mile. Nike described this as a “massive leap”, even for athletes with such impressive pedigree. 

The Breaking2 team also includes a team of experts from a range of disciplines including biomechanics, coaching, design, engineering, materials development, nutrition, and sports psychology and physiology. Nike said these experts are aiming to “unpack performance at the molecular level”.

Image shows Lelisa Desisa, Zerzenay Tadese and Eliud Kipchoge (l-r), who will lead the record attempt (credit: Nike)

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