Eliud Kipchoge has become the first athlete to run a marathon distance faster than two hours by finishing in one hour, 59 minutes and 40.2 seconds in Vienna.
Saturday’s sub two-hour time is an historic landmark in athletics but will not count as a world record as it was not run in open competition but on a specially designed course using 41 pacemakers.
However, Kipchoge, who holds the official marathon world record of 2:01.39 set in Berlin 2018 and was making a second attempt to go under two hours, compared his run to Roger Bannister breaking the four-minute mile barrier in 1954.
“I tried and I did not get it,” he said referring to a first attempt two years ago.
“Sixty five years (since Bannister), I am the first man – I want to inspire many people that no human is limited.”
Later on Twitter he posted: “Today we went to the Moon and came back to earth! I am at a loss for words for all the support I have received from all over the world.”
The run was under the aegis of the Ineos 1:59 Challenge, a project by British chemicals firm Ineos, and described on their website as Kipchoge’s “moon landing moment” to underline the historical dimension of the feat.
“This was the best moment of my life,” Kipchoge said.
“From the first kilometre today I was really comfortable. In my heart and my mind I hoped to run under two hours and make history. I hoped to leave a positive message to the whole world that no human is limited.”
The 2016 Olympic champion ran the 42.19km on loops of a 9.6km course.
His record run came two years after he ran 2:00.25 in an attempt to go under two hours on the Italian Monza motor-racing track.
Neither of the times are sanctioned as records by governing athletics body IAAF.
Despite not being recorded as an official world record, IAAF president Sebastian Coe said ahead of the event the milestone would still be important.
“If there’s an exciting attempt for getting under two hours for the marathon I’m not sure that most people are going to be sitting there going, ‘Well, it wasn’t sanctioned as a World Record because it wasn’t in open competition,’ he said.
“I just don’t think it matters. It’s just a big milestone being met and our sport has space for all sorts of things and I think it will appeal and add value.”