Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge has become the first runner to finish a 42.2km marathon in under two hours and described the record-shattering the best moment of his life.
The 34-year-old Olympic champion completed the course in the Prater Park, Vienna, in an incredible one hour, 59 minutes and 40 seconds.
He celebrated with his arms outstretched and waved to the crowds as he sprinted over the line before he was greeted by a loving embrace from his wife Grace.
“I’m the happiest man today. The message that no human is limited is now in everybody’s mind,” an elated Kipchoge told reporters after the run, adding he expected more athletes to reach his feat in the future.
“From the first kilometres, I was really comfortable. I have been training for it for the last four and a half months, and above all I have been putting in my heart and in my mind that I’ll run an under a two-hour marathon.”
The 34-year-old already holds the men’s world record for the distance with a time of 2hr 01min 39sec, which he set in the flat Berlin marathon on September 16, 2018.
But accompanied by a posse of 41 pacemakers, who took turns to support him, and a car in front of them setting the pace, Kipchoge bested his mark, making good on a failed attempt two years ago in Monza, Italy.
Maintaining a very regular pace at around 2:50 minutes per kilometre, he passed the finish line gesturing and smiling, describing his approach to the finish as “the best moment of my life”.
The founder of the main sponsors, Ineos, British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe, took a personal interest in the challenge and himself competes in Ironman triathlons.
“That last kilometre where he actually accelerated was super human,” Ratcliffe said.
Kipchoge had been 11 seconds in advance at mid-race as fans lining the course, many waving Kenyan flags, loudly cheered him on.
Kipchoge’s coach, Patrick Sang, said the Kenyan had “inspired all of us that we can stretch our limits in our lives”.
“Records are meant to be broken, so down the line someone will try again, but history has been made. It’s unbelievable,” Sang added.
Kipchoge told reporters earlier this week that his attempt in the Austrian capital was about “making history in this world, like the first man to go to the moon.”
Pacemakers took turns to support him throughout the 42.195-kilometre (26.219-miles) race. They included 1,500-metre Olympic champion Matthew Centrowitz and former world champion Bernard Lagat.
The course included a 4.3 kilometre-long straight alley, which the Kenyan ran up and down several times amid dry but foggy weather.
Throngs of fans cheered on Kipchoge whenever he passed by.
William Magachi, 33, from Nairobi, was one of many Kenyans watching.
“It’s amazing. He is a super human being, the positivity, what he has been able to achieve.
“It’s a record breaking moment. It never happened and may never happen again in my lifetime… I’m a lucky man.”