Ok, so everyone in this forum (including its leaders) are criticizing Nike for the sub2h attempt, and I would like to make a case to the other side. Nike's sub 2h is what our sports needs in terms of excitement and attention and a genius marketing campaign for the company.
English is not my mother tongue so I apologize for mistakes that will certainly occur. I do not work at Nike, nor have any relatives who do. I have a pair of Pegasus and a pair of Flyknit Racers but I use other brands (and my favorite shoes all time are probably the DS Racer from Asics or the Brooks T5/T6). I am only mentioning this because i expect this to be mentioned as an argument to diminish the topic. I hope we can make this an interesting discussion.
My two arguments are:
1) we won't see a sub 2h00, but we are close enough to justify the buzz
2) the attempt will be great to the sport
Are we really that far of a Sub 2h Marathon?
I am a 71'50" Half Marathoner and a 2h31'55" Marathoner and hold a master degree in statistics. I know a little about the sports, graphs and numbers. Though I am confident that we will not see the sub 2h, I do believe that we are close enough to justify the attempt. Serious attempts to break the 4 min for the mile have started decades before 1954, why are runners are being so harsh on attempting to run sub 2h?
Kipchoge has run 2h03'05 in London with horrible pacing (a 28'37 10k and a close to sub2h00 pace from km 40 to the finish line). How much faster could Kipchoge have run in Berlin that day with better pacing?
I think many people in this forum would agree that he was capable of a low 2h02.
Now let's change our perspective to Tadese. I know, this is all about Kipchoge and Tadese has passed his prime. But consider the 58:23 Tadese. Or the 58:33 Wanjiru. How many KM could these two runners have run @ sub 2h00 pace? Certainly when at 58:30 shape, running a 59:59 half wouldn't be that fast... and I could see both these runners at their primes breaking the barrier of 30 km under 2h00 pace. Yes they would fade later. But how exciting would that be.
Now consider Bekele. I know, he has probably passed his prime again. But consider the 26:17 Bekele... wouldn't be that crazy to think Bekele breaking 58 for the Half Marathon, right? And if we had that Bekele adding volume (to his 2h03 in Berlim last year). What could have Bekele run for the Marathon? Maybe a low 2h02 as Kipchoge? Or maybe not that crazy to think that he could dip under 2h02 and reach the high 2h01?
I know that Bekele isn't even in the sub2 group of Nike, Wanjiru is not with us anymore, Tadese has passed his prime... Desisa doesn't have the same caliber of these runners. But I mentioned these examples to argue that history has already produced runners capable of a low 2h02/high 2h01 Marathon ... runners able to run 30 km under 2h00 pace... and this in the same record eligible conditions that we've seen.
Now back to Nike's attempt.
If a simple pace analysis of Kipchoge in London makes it reasonable to believe he was capable of a low 2h02 (i will be conservative here), then let's consider the other factors - that yes, are hard to come together at once, but all within the realms of reality, for sure!
~ Kipchoge reaches a better shape than he was in London.
~ Nike produces a great shoe that's able to cut a few seconds.
~ Perfect pacing (in a circuit like Monza that wouldn't be that hard)
~ perfect use of hydration / recovery drinks cutting a few more seconds
~ what else? (i am certainly forgetting something...)
then how fast could Kipchoge run under these conditions? My guess: somewhere between 2h00'40 - 2h01'20. Yes this is fast. But think again of how Kipchoge ran 2h03'05 in London and think of a better version of that Kipchoge having the advantages mentioned above.
This is still not sub2h00, but close enough to justify all this buzz.
And inevitable - and very important - to a future sub 2h00 Marathon, that I believe will be done by an athlete that we do not know, maybe hasn't even been born, and combines the best of Bekele/Tadese/Kipchoge.
The Nike attempt will be great for our sport. This is a giant throwing lots of money not to produce crap shoes to the social media runner, but to test the limits of human beings, to test the best of the best runners out there.
Running is pretty much out of the mainstream in the whole world (maybe not in East Africa). Our sport is not exciting anymore. Few people know the difference of running a 25 min 5K and a 15 min 5K. The sub2h attempt has the chance to bring the attention back to running, so our sport won't depend of Usain Bolt every 4 years. The other day a friend of mine who understand nothing about running came to me and told me about this "Nike thing of running a marathon sub 2h" and asked me why running a marathon sub 2h was so hard. I explained to him and now he's a much more running educated person than before. This is the power under this 2h00 concept, it creates interest, it promotes knowledge. More people can become true fans of running by the simple "i heard about this 2h00 attempt".
We are living a golden age of Marathon. Honestly, look at Kipsang, Kimmetto, Kipchoge, Bekele. These are all time greats running together. Maybe the next generation will not be that good... and I could see some people regretting.. "they should've tried the sub 2h00!!!"
More than 10 yrs before Bannister Gunder Hagg and Arne Andersson came really close to break 4'00" in the mile. If LetsRun.com existed at that time, i suspect i would be reading so many critics to the attempt... and yet possibly Bannister wouldn't break the barrier without them.
Our future 1h59'59" runner will have a lot to thank to Nike and Kipchoge for bringing the 2h00'00 barrier closer.