The historic city of Vienna, Austria, will host Eliud Kipchoge’s attempt to break the last great barrier in modern athletics, the sub two-hour marathon, in the INEOS 1:59 Challenge.
After an extensive worldwide assessment process, The Prater – the famous Viennese park – has been chosen by the INEOS 1:59 Challenge as the venue that will give Kipchoge (KEN) the optimum conditions to write himself into the history books.
The marathon will be held on a multi-lap, 9.6 kilometre course centred on Hauptallee, the iconic long, straight and tree-lined avenue which runs through the heart of The Prater.
Each lap will feature Kipchoge running two 4.3km out-and-back stretches of Hauptallee with the turning points coming at the Lusthaus and Praterstern roundabouts at either end of the avenue.
The event is due to take place on Saturday 12th October, with a reserve window of eight days scheduled until the 20th October, in case of adverse weather conditions.
Vienna was chosen after an extensive, global search because it provides:
A fast and flat track
A straight road, the 4.3km stretch of Prater Hauptallee
Consistent and optimum performance weather conditions in October
Fresh air – the park is described as the ‘green lung of Vienna’
Wide, traffic-free and illuminated roads
Ability to have supporters lining the route
Within a 3 hour time difference of where Kipchoge trains in Kenya
A proactive and welcoming local Mayor and experienced Vienna Marathon team
Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Chairman of INEOS, puts the challenge ahead into perspective. “Eliud Kipchoge is the greatest ever marathon runner and the only athlete in the world who has any chance of beating the two-hour time. Nobody’s been able to achieve this. It’s not unlike trying to put a man on the moon. If Eliud runs 1:59 it will be the first time that any human has ever been able to break that barrier.”
“We have a responsibility to ensure he is given the best chance. After an extensive search of venues fitting Eliud’s criteria, we are delighted to be working with Vienna, and hope to see history made in October,” concluded Ratcliffe, a keen sportsman himself who has competed in over 30 marathons.
Kipchoge is preparing for his record attempt at his training camp in Kaptagat, Kenya. Speaking about the course selection Kipchoge said: “”I’ve been informed Vienna has a fast and flat course, nicely protected by trees. The course is as well situated in the heart of this beautiful city which will enable a great number of spectators to be part of this historical event”.
The first recorded races in the city took place in 1740 and from 1820 The Prater became the heart of Vienna’s running community. The park remains the number one running venue in the city to this day and is at the heart of the annual Vienna City Marathon.
The Prater athletics track, the Vienna Athletics Centre, was also the location for a world distance running record by another Kenyan athlete, Henry Rono, in 1978.
Henry Rono ran 27:22:05 to break the world 10,000m record in Vienna where he was paced by Jos Hermens – the man who founded Global Sports Communication, the management agency of Kipchoge.
Legendary athletics coach Franz Stampfl, who coached Roger Bannister to the world’s first sub four-minute mile, was born in Vienna in 1913. Stampfl pioneered the science of interval training for distance runners.