On the final day of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Eliud Kipchoge cemented his GOAT status by successfully defending his gold medal in the marathon. Plagued with Sapporo's intense humidity and temperatures veering into 90-degree territory, the Kenyan proved, in his words, that "no human is limited."
That philosophy was exemplified during Kipchoge's second attempt to run an unofficial sub-two-hour marathon, better known as the INEOS 1:59 Challenge. A monumental undertaking that took place in Vienna, Austria nearly two years ago, the 36-year-old's feat is recounted in "Kipchoge: The Last Milestone."
Directed by Jake Scott, viewers are given unparalleled access to the infinite steps taken to accomplish Kipchoge's goal. Without stating the obvious, you can deduce that perfection was necessary for success.
Perhaps the most remarkable part of this story is Kipchoge's demeanor throughout the entire process. An undertaking like this would surely elicit feelings of anxiety for anyone tasked with completing something literally no human has done before. But Kipchoge's attitude for the entire hour and 27 minutes of the production is a marvel. He remains unflappable to the noise, unfazed by the pomp and circumstance. He maintains such a serious personality, naturally you wonder if this is someone incapable of showing emotion.
In fact, it's quite the contrary. From the moment Kipchoge realizes he will indeed become the only human to complete 26.2 in under two hours, his disposition completely shifts. A triumphant smile flashes across his face, the reunion with his family is beautiful and from a viewer's perspective, is an instant realization that quitting was never an option.
"That last part of the race is actually what's fixed in my mind," Kipchoge said to Yahoo Sports. "I still remember the time being below two hours and when I think about it, it's a reassurance that anything is possible."
The efforts it took for this mission to come to fruition is perhaps just as fascinating as Kipchoge's 1:59:40 time. Funded by Ineos CEO Sir Jim Ratcliffe, 41 of world's best runners were flown in to serve as Kipchoge's pacers. Apparel and footwear sponsor Nike outfitted the four-time Olympic medalist with carbon-fiber-plated "super shoes" that boast an ultralight foam and incredible bounce with each stride. Developed in 2016, the sneakers would eventually motivate sportswear competitors Adidas, ASICS and other to produce their own versions of the trainers in hopes of stifling The Swoosh's momentum.
Speaking to Yahoo Sports, Kipchoge revealed his favorite part of the experience.
"How the pacers organized themselves going in and out is what impressed me the most. They played a very important role in making history."
Technology also played a heavy role in the INEOS 1:59 Challenge, and it proves just how much innovation is necessary in sports. Could Kipchoge have captured this "unofficial" record without the need for a pace car, rotating marathoners strategically placed to minimize wind resistance, or a team of experts obsessively checking he didn't deviate from a 4:34 pace? We'll never know, and we frankly shouldn't care. Those aforementioned benefits were certainly helpful, but Kipchoge's stamina, willpower and of course, legs, are the catalysts behind this achievement.
Tom Brady's historic seven Super Bowl rings or Serena Williams' impressive 23 Grand Slams are acceptable arguments to name them as the greatest of all time. With honorable mentions to Lionel Messi or Michael Jordan, rarely do we hear Kipchoge's name in the same breath. The glaring omission doesn't seem to bother him, in fact he'd rather his legacy encourage the next generation of record-breakers.
"I want people to get inspired by me and remember they are not limited at all. And even if I don't get the appreciation of being the great one, bottom line is I want the human population to be inspired. That's my happiness."
"Kipchoge: The Last Milestone." is available to stream digitally on Apple TV, Amazon Prime, YouTube and more.