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«I have zero understanding how a human being can move that quick, that long»

Eliud Kipchoge running the 2018 London Marathon.

Eli­ud Kip­choge recent­ly won the Tokyo Marathon in 2:02:40, not much slow­er than his cur­rent world record for the fastest marathon ever, set dur­ing the Berlin Marathon in 2018 with a time of 2:01:39. But what does that time mean? Mark Lewis, who describes him­self as an aver­age run­ner who is «not too bad» at any dis­tance, thought about this ques­tion a lit­tle longer. «It’s a 2 minute 54 per km pace for 42 km; stu­pid­ly quick,» he says. But: «I can’t com­pre­hend what he’s doing, not properly.»

There­fore Lewis set him­self a chal­lenge and tried to achieve that 2:54 pace on a tread­mill. Not for the length of a full marathon of course, but for as long as he could keep that pace up. Start­ing with a «fast walk» of 8 min­utes per km he increased the speed grad­u­al­ly. The pace of 4:37 he calles «prop­er­ly run­ning» and run­ning a 4‑minute km he states: «Most peo­ple aren’t run­ning this fast for long.»

«As an OK run­ner, I thought this would be inter­est­ing. Because one of the cool things about being OK at some­thing is it allows you a bet­ter under­stand­ing of just how good the real­ly good peo­ple are.»

Lewis video, that he has pub­lished on YouTube, is instruc­tive and fun at the same time. It’s an impres­sive demon­stra­tion of Kip­choge’s per­for­mance but is no invi­ta­tion for mockery—although Lewis reach­es «fail­ure» at two min­utes. «Falling over is becom­ing a dis­tinct pos­si­bil­i­ty,» he says a short moment before. But is he any the wis­er now? Yes and no. Yes, because he knows now what a 2:54 pace feels like. But he has to admit: «I have zero under­stand­ing how a human being can move that quick, that long.»

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