Kenenisa Bekele on the 2 Hour Marathon: “A human being can not go that (fast)”

October 10, 2014

The pros and stars of the 2014 Bank of America Chicago Marathon came out in force at Friday’s media day.

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Kenenisa Bekele in Chicago Kenenisa Bekele in Chicago

The headliner of course was Kenenisa Bekele, the world’s most credentialed distance runner, who is running his second marathon ever in Chicago.

A big question Friday was how fast would they try and run. 2:03:45 is the course record from last year, and there is a $75,000 bonus for breaking it, so that is a reasonable goal. Until two weeks ago the world record was not that much faster at 2:03:23 (but now is 2:02:57).

The discussion of how fast they will go on Sunday (the pacers are going to try and hit halfway in 1:01:40 and hang on for 30km) quickly turned to how fast someone can run a marathon. Bekele and his agent, Jos Hermens, had very differing views on the 2 hour marathon.

Bekele quickly dismissed it as impossible. “In the future maybe, if the scientists create different human beings… A human being can not go that (fast),” he said in the video that is embedded below.

Hermens, 64 and a former world class runner himself, was much more optimistic and hopes to see a sub two while he is alive.

“Eventually we can go under 2 hours I think. It will take a while,” he said. When asked how long that would take he said, “Twenty years maybe.”

Hermans pointed out how at least with Bekele there are many advances that can be done in his training. Hermens said, “There still is a lot to gain, training wise, medical care, physiotherapy, everything can be better, but he’s (Bekele) a very natural person. He doesn’t even take a multi-vitamin.”

We’ll have more on Friday’s media day, but turning to Sunday’s race, it should be a great one. While the attention has been on Bekele and former World 5000m champion Eliud Kipchoge, Hermens noted, “it’s going to competitive with 4 or 5 people for sure.”

As for Bekele, Hermens said, “The goal is to win and get more experience in his second marathon. He’s not the favorite. We would like to go for the course record and now before Berlin it (the world record) was 20 seconds more (than the course record). Now it’s a lot more… He’s not here to go for the world record…. He’s still learning (the marathon).”

We’ll have more from our talk with Bekele later tonight, but he has been training with his brother Tariku and a few other guys and doing some training on his own. Bekele thought he might have over-trained for his first marathon where he said he suffered cramps around 27km. So he has backed off his mileage from 180-200km (111-124 miles) a week for his debut in Paris to 160-180km (99-111 miles) a week for Chicago. His brother is one of the pace makers on Sunday.

Bekele on the 2 Hour Marathon:

Jos Hermens on the 2 Hour Marathon

Kenenisa Bekele 8 Minutes on Chicago 2014

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