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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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