That's 26.22 miles at a 4:42 pace. Though I may be just another hobby jogger, I marvel at the fact that Kipsang and the others at the top of the sport can run for more than two hours at what I run repeat quarters.
90 years ago, Paavo Nurmi ran this pace for 14 minutes and 35.4 seconds to set the track record for 5000m.
In 1949, Emil Zatopek held this pace for 29 minutes and 02.6 to better his own 10000m record on the track.
A female runner did not run this pace for 5000m until the mid-1990s, and no female has ran this pace for 10000m.
In last year's NCAA D1 XC Championship meet, only Kithuka, Sambu, and Lalang bettered this pace for the 10k course (yes, I understand road racing is a different animal, but I digress).
Should this discourage or encourage runners everywhere, especially those not of East African-ancestry? Is it all in the genes? Pain threshold? Culture? Something more?
The East Africans are giving their time, minds, hearts, bodies, and souls completely to training. Many of them do this and receive nothing in return. The numbers of phenomenal runners there, capable of being among the best in America and elsewhere, who will live forever essentially anonymous in their neighborhoods, let alone the world, is staggering.
My question is could we in America emulate something even approaching this? Throngs of people dedicating their everything to the sport? Should we even try?
Another question that arises is just what is the human limits in distance running? I don't know about anyone else, but performances like these are just mind-boggling to me in terms of execution, poise, and the capacity for pain and perseverance through it.
On the flip side: Has this sport (among others) gone too far? With all the problems in the world, is this commitment justified? I think the answer can only be yes if it is making us stronger, more wholesome contributors to humanity. But with all of the drug allegations, cheating scandals, and bureaucratic power plays going on, I'm just not so sure.