Home SCIENCE Why It’s Almost Impossible to Run a Two-Hour Marathon

Why It’s Almost Impossible to Run a Two-Hour Marathon

One of the world’s finest distance runners came so close to achieving the greatest feats of athleticism in history: a sub two-hour marathon. To do it, the Eliud Kipchoge should have maintained an average pace of at least 13.1 miles per hour.

image credit: WIRED

So, we timed how long WIRED staffers could run at that speed. Needless to say, we didn’t last long. Here’s why only a handful of people in the world could ever come close to a two-hour marathon.

The first official world marathon record was 2:55:18 set by Johnny Hayes at the 1908 London Olympics. Since then, as the record has continued to tumble, momentum has gathered for a sub-two-hour clocking.


Why is the sub-two-hour marathon a big deal?

As was the case with the sub-four-minute mile, it’s a symbolic barrier that challenges current conceptions of what’s humanly possible. Also like the sub-four mile, it’s an easily understood quest that the general public, rather than just hardcore running fans, can take interest in.