The Austrian capital of Vienna has been selected to host Eliud Kipchoge’s attempt to run a sub-two-hour marathon as part of the Ineos 1:59 Challenge in October.
The Prater, a park described as the ‘green lung of Vienna’, will stage the event on October 12. A reserve window of eight days has been scheduled until October 20 in case of adverse weather conditions.
Ineos, the British chemicals company which is sponsoring the attempt by Kipchoge to break the two-hour barrier, said the park would provide the Kenyan with the “optimum conditions to write himself into the history books”.
The marathon will take place on a multi-lap, 9.6km course centred on Hauptallee, the long, tree-lined avenue that runs through The Prater. Vienna has been selected to host following what Ineos described as an “extensive worldwide assessment process”.
Each lap will see Kipchoge run two 4.3km out-and-back stretches of Hauptallee, with turning points at the Lusthaus and Praterstern roundabouts at either end of the avenue.
The park is within a three-hour time difference of where Kipchoge trains in Kenya and features wide, traffic-free and illuminated roads. The park’s capacity to have supporters lining the route also played a part in its selection.
Kipchoge is regarded as one of the greatest marathon runners of all time and came close to making history in his first attempt at a sub-two-hour run when clocking 2:00.25 in a specially-created event in Monza, Italy in May 2017. The event was not recognised as an official world record.
For the Monza event, Kipchoge was spearheading an initiative led by US sportswear company Nike called Breaking2. Although Kipchoge ultimately failed to break the two-hour barrier in Monza, the event was widely deemed a marketing masterstroke by Nike, with around 5.2 million people having watched live on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
Jonny Colin, account manager at sports and entertainment marketing agency Synergy, at the time labelled Breaking2 “a huge win” for Nike, adding: “This is their ‘Just Do It’ ethos on perhaps the biggest stage we’ve seen.”
Kipchoge was joined by Zersenay Tadese and Lelisa Desisa for the Monza event but is set to run the Vienna marathon alone.
In September 2018, Kipchoge took one minute and 18 seconds off the official world record at the Berlin Marathon, clocking 2:01:39. He has since won an historic fourth London Marathon.
Ineos announced last month that it would be backing Kipchoge’s latest attempt and a major marketing campaign is set to be launched to publicise the run, with live coverage to be distributed around the world on traditional and digital channels.
The move marks Ineos’ latest major investment in sport. In March, pan-European pay-television broadcaster Sky, and its parent company 21st Century Fox, confirmed the sale of its eponymous UCI WorldTour cycling outfit to Ineos, which became the sole owner of the team’s holding company, Tour Racing Limited, on May 1.