Eliud Kipchoge: from running two miles to school to breaking two-hour marathon time barrier

Eliud Kipchoge, Kenyan marathon world record holder, celebrates with the flag of Kenya in front of the finish line after the INEOS 1:59 Challenge in Vienna
Eliud Kipchoge, Kenyan marathon world record holder, celebrates with the flag of Kenya in front of the finish line after the INEOS 1:59 Challenge in Vienna Credit: CHRISTIAN BRUNA/EPA-EFE/REX 

Saturday morning saw one of the most famous barriers in sport broken when Eliud Kipchoge became the first person to go under two hours for the marathon.

The Kenyan distance-running great took on the challenge in Austria, Vienna.

Aided by a team of pacemakers and with a support car ahead, he posted a time of 1.59 and 40 seconds.

But who is the runner who joins Sir Roger Bannister in running immortality?

Here, Telegraph Sport presents a guide to the marathon legend.

Who is Eliud Kipchoge? 

Eliud Kipchoge is a Kenyan marathon runner who has just achieved sporting greatness by becoming the first person to run a marathon in under two hours.

What is Eliud Kipchoge’s story?

Eliud Kipchoge was born in the Nandi District of Kenya on 5 November 1984. He used to run two miles to get to school every day at Kaptel Secondary School but it was not until he was 16 that he met his coach Patrick Sang, himself an Olympic steeplechase medalist and things started to take off. Kipchoge was raised by his mother and did not know his dad growing up; he is the youngest of four siblings.

What medals has Eliud Kipchoge won?

Kipchoge won the gold medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016 in the marathon. Earlier in his career he focused on the 5000m and won a bronze at Athens 2004 and a silver at Beijing 2008. He holds the World Marathon Record in two hours one minute and 39 seconds. He has won the London Marathon four out of the last five times and is the course record holder.

What is so special about his achievement this weekend?

No human has every run under two hours to complete a marathon, the iconic distance of 26 miles 385 yards. In Vienna on Saturday, the Kenyan posted a time of 1hr 59min 40sec.

Loneliness: the long distance runner Credit: CHRISTIAN BRUNA/EPA-EFE/REX 

So is this a new world record for Eliud Kipchoge?

No. Although the time is recognised, the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) has said it will not consider the run as an an official record because the race was not run in open competition.

What was unusual about Eliud Kipchoge’s marathon run?

Kipchoge used pacemakers who ran in a team to help him. 41 people in all ran alongside him to help him battle wind resistance and they worked in teams of seven. They also had assistance from a support car in front that projected laser guidance as to where they should run. The run was organised and funded by the British chemical company INEOS.

How did the marathon run unfold?

Kipchoge’s time at the halfway mark was 59.35 seconds, 11 seconds inside the target, and he kept a very consistent pace of between 2.48 and 2.52 seconds per kilometre.

What does this mean for Eliud Kipchoge’s profile?

William Hill are offering 6/4 about Eliud Kipchoge being named the World Sports Star of the year at the BBCSPOTY.

What did Eliud Kipchoge say about his feats?

Kipchoge said: "I am feeling good, after Roger Bannister it took another 65 years to make history. Now I've gone under two hours to inspire other people and show the world that nobody is limited. I can say I'm tired. It was a hard run. Remember, the pacemakers are among the best athletes in the world, I appreciate them for doing the job. It means a lot for Kenya.”

What did other sportspeople say?

Mark Cavendish called it "the most impressive sporting achievement in history" and said that he "was moved to tears." Jo Pavey said Kipchoge had "pushed the limits of human endeavour"