October - No Human is Limited

October has been a fantastic month for running! On October 12th, Kenyan athlete Eliud Kipchoge made history in Vienna when he became the first person to run a marathon in under two hours, and one day later, Brigid Kosegi, also of Kenya, broke the women’s world marathon record in Chicago.

Controversy surrounded Kipchoge’s remarkable run however, as it will not be officially recognised as a world record by the sport’s governing body – because he violated enough rules to make it ineligible to be considered a “real” world record. Which we at Intelligent Fitness feel is entirely fair; world record attempts must by their nature be undertaken on a level playing field.

So what, apart from his extraordinary determination and outstanding athletic ability, caused the controversy? Firstly, he ran with a team of 41 pacers (some of whom were themselves Olympic medallists), in a special V formation to minimise drag. He also used a pacing car 15 metres in front of the pacers, shining a precise laser line onto the road for them to follow, to keep them on track. Add in a cyclist passing his water bottle and the near mythical Nike Vaporfly runners with their carbon fibre plate, and Kipchoge came under intense criticism for using “too much science”, garnering unfair comparisons with Roger Bannister, who ran the first sub-four minute mile in baggy running shorts and battered 1950s leather running spikes.

Fast forward to October 27th in Dublin, to when 18,000 of us mere mortals ran the fantastically well organised and hugely enthusiastically supported KBC Dublin City Marathon (rightly dubbed “the friendly marathon”). I was among those running, enthusiastically high-fiving all the kids, excitedly chatting to my fellow athletes, soaking up the atmosphere… and eventually limping over the finish line in tears, resolving never to put myself through that hideous torture ever again, only to immediately sign up for next year’s race.

Having put myself repeatedly through 26.2 miles of extreme endurance, I fail to understand why, with the benefit of brilliantly engineered running shoes and fascinating scientific advances, the world’s top athletes should be criticised for giving themselves every advantage they could. How lucky we are to live in a time when such incredibly exciting advances are being made in sporting endeavour. With the aid of science, truly no human is limited – and I’m sure Roger Bannister would agree.