2022 – Eliud Kipchoge

Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Eliud_Kipchoge_in_Berlin.jpg – Desitlicheresguruweil

25-Sep-2022 – Berlin Marathon – 2:01:09 – Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next% 2
Date of birth: 5-Nov-1984
Nationality: Kenyan
World Record Duration: 1 year, 13 days

The athlete:                
It appears that the only man who can beat Eliud Kipchoge, is Eliud Kipchoge himself. Earlier in 2022 he reminded the world that he had lost none of his speed by winning the Tokyo Marathon in 2:02:40, despite having taken a wrong turn due to marshalling issues along the course. His preparation for the Berlin Marathon was without issue, many speculating whether he would be able to break the two hour barrier in competition. Weather conditions were close to ideal come the day of the race, and Kipchoge moved in for the kill.

The first half saw Kipchoge putting in blistering kilometre times, passing the half-way point in an unbelievable 59:51, ahead of the time set at the same point during the INEOS 1:59 Challenge and itself the fastest ever half-way time in the marathon. For comparison, the current half-marathon world record is 57:31. Only the pacers and Andamlak Belihu of Ethiopia were staying with him, but by the 25 kilometre mark it was down to Kipchoge against the clock.

It was at this stage where even Kipchoge began to feel the effect of his earlier efforts, and he began slowly dropping off the pace required to break two hours in official competition. It was now the question of by how much he would beat his old world record. With an occasional smile moving across his face, apparently one sign he was truly beginning to feel the exertion from his efforts, he continued powering towards the finish at the Brandenburg Gate. When he crossed the line, he had wiped 30 seconds from his previous world record.

Although few would question that Kipchoge is the greatest distance runner of all-time, the question is now whether Kipchoge would try to again break the two hour barrier, or whether his focus shifts to winning a third consecutive gold medal at the 2024 Paris Olympics. Knowing how he appears to only get stronger with age, doing both is entirely possible, saying simple that there is more left in his legs.

The shoes:                   

The bright orange shoes that Kipchoge wore were the next evolution of the Nike Air Zoom AlphaFly Next% that he had used to unofficially break the two hour marathon barrier. The Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next% 2 used the same concept as the original, with Zoom Air pods and a carbon-fibre plate alongside considerable amounts of specially formulated Pebax foam that Nike calls ZoomX.

Nike took everything that worked for the Alphafly, which was for all intents and purposes designed for Kipchoge, and made them better (I’ve included a diagram of the original to show how the shoe is constructed). More ZoomX foam was placed beneath the Zoom Air pods, the base of the shoe was made wider for better stability, with the upper featuring an updated version of the Atomknit mesh which was unsurprisingly called Atomknit 2.0. 

The ‘Total Orange’ colourway that Kipchoge wore is still widely available, as are the other colourways of the Air Zoom Alphafly Next% 2. Although competitors such as Adidas and ASICS have caught up in many ways, Nike and Kipchoge are still proving unbeatable across the marathon distance.