20-Apr-1985 – Rotterdam Marathon – 2:07:12 – Nike Spiridon Gold
Date of birth: 18-Feb-1947
World Record Duration: 2 years, 11 months, 28 days
After winning gold at the 1984 Olympics, there was little else for Carlos Lopes to do except attempt to break the marathon world record. He would enter the 1985 Rotterdam Marathon, where he had lost in 1983 by two seconds behind Rob De Castella. His preparation was unimpaired, Lopes feeling confident the night before. He quickly got into his stride, his two pacemakers leading him through the first half.
After that point Lopes was left to his own devices, with no other competitors threatening his lead.
In the last major race of his career, Lopes would win and take nearly one full minute of the marathon world record. His run was the model of consistency, the last half covered in about the same time as the first. Incredibly, Lopes said that if he had competition he could have gone as fast as 2:05:45.
As it was, he was the first man in history to break the 2:08 barrier and run the marathon distance at over 20 kilometres an hour. He is also the only other man apart from the legendary Abebe Bikila to have simultaneously held both the marathon world record and the Olympic marathon record. Lopes would retire at the end of 1985, having made the most of his short few years competing at the marathon distance.
The story of the shoes Lopes wore to set the marathon world record is more closely entwined with the 1984 Olympics. As you can read about here, his introduction to the Nike Spiridon Gold was just before the Olympic marathon which he would go on to win. Lopes would wear the same model again in 1985 to set the marathon world record. Images from the period, in particular the Nike advertisements proclaiming his achievements, showed the distinct gold swoosh.