by Robert Johnson
May 4, 2017
With all due respect to Ross Tucker and Steve Magness, who have given their thoughts on Eliud Kipchoge‘s sub-2 attempt this weekend, we started LetsRun.com to spread the gospel of our old running mentor John Kellogg. So I decided to reach out to Mr. Kellogg, LetsRun.com’s coaching/stats guru, for his thoughts on the sub-2 attempt.
And for good reason, John Kellogg is known for making the most famous marathon world record prediction in the professional era. Prior to the 2011 Boston Marathon, Mr. Kellogg basically predicted the unthinkable – he told everyone to get ready for the possibility of a 2:03 in Boston when the course record stood at just 2:05:52 (MB: Official John Kellogg Is a Genius Thread (He Predicted The 2:03 on Boston) and Geoffrey Mutai promptly went out and ran 2:03:02 (interesting to note: he took 2:50 off the course record and Kipchoge needs to take 2:58 off the world record to break 2:00:00).
After filling Mr. Kellogg in on the record attempt (he knew that one was happening but knew few details), I asked him how likely was it that Kipchoge would break 2:00:00.
“Unless there is some sort of huge mechanical advantage, I’d say it’s less than one chance in a … (pause) hundred? I don’t even know how to answer that – it’s so unlikely. No one has ever gone out faster than 1:01 in a marathon so unless he’s got a huge mechanical advantage – unless he’s got cheater’s shoes – and I don’t know anything about those shoes – then he’s not doing it. With normal running and normal equipment, I can’t say anything is impossible but it’s pretty close to impossible,” said Mr. Kellogg. “[And if he sticks to sub-2 pace past halfway], I think he might bonk and not break the world record. I mean how many big positive split world records do you see?” said Kellogg before noting that it does happen as Mary Keitany did it on the women’s side in London for the women’s-only world record. In London, Keitany ran her second half 3:07 slower than her first half.
John Kellogg showing off his basketball skills yesterday before making his prediction
We then asked Mr. Kellogg for how long he thought Kipchoge could keep up 1:59:59 pace if he just keeps running that pace until he drops.
“I think if he sticks with the 1:59:59 pace for as long as he possibly can, I think he’ll make it between 19.75 and 20.00 miles. I think 20 miles at that pace is about top end for anyone unless he’s got cheater’s shoes – and again I don’t know anything about those shoes,” said Mr. Kellogg, who has a masters degree in mathematics, explaining that he came up with that estimate simply by comparing the pace Kipchoge is trying to run (4:34.57 mile pace) with the pace for half marathon world record (4:27.21) and marathon world record (4:41.36). There is a 14.15-second gap (per mile) between the marathon and half marathon world records and Kipchoge is trying to run at a pace that is 52.0% of that difference – and 52% between 13.1 miles and 26.2 miles is 19.91 miles.
“A marathon is not a 20-miler. A lot of people can run hard for 20 miles but you’ve got to pace it properly if you are going to run a good time for all 26.2. There could be a really big bonk if they force him to stick to that pace.”
Talk about the sub-2 exhibition on our fan forum /messageboard: MB: Nike Sub-2 Prediction Thread.
More: Breaking2 Preview: Sorry, Eliud — The Experts Explain Why a Sub-2:00 Marathon This Weekend Is All But Impossible
*LRC Q&A: Ross Tucker on Ideal Marathon Pacing Strategy, Eliud Kipchoge’s Big Decision & Everything Else Breaking2
PS. For the last few years, Mr. Kellogg, who guided LetsRun.com co-founder Weldon Johnson from 30:13 in college to 28:06 post-collegiately, has focused much of his efforts to becoming a cyclist, but he wants it to be known he’s come out of retirement and is coaching runners once again. He has room to coach three more serious athletes. If you are interested in being one of these three people, please email him at [email protected].
He’d like to know your
Running history (injuries, mileage)