LONDON • Four-time London Marathon winner Eliud Kipchoge yesterday announced his intention to shatter athletics' last great barrier - running a marathon in under two hours.
Revealing the attempt will be made in London in October, the Kenyan said: "This will surpass everything I have achieved. It will be history for the human family."
However, the attempt is bound to generate controversy as it will be financed by Britain's richest man, Jim Ratcliffe, whose petrochemical company Ineos has faced protests from environmentalists for its business practices, use of plastics and links to fracking.
However, the billionaire, who recently took over the Team Sky cycling team, denied he is engaging in sports-washing, a policy broadly defined as one where countries, institutions or individuals use sport to buff and hone their image so as to be cast in a more favourable light.
Telling reporters that "it's just a really good sporting endeavour", he said: "For athletics or endurance, this is the most extraordinary challenge that faces a human being.
"For any of us who runs, the concept of going for 42km at 2min 50sec a kilometre is unthinkable.
"Most people on the planet couldn't do that for one kilometre."
Asked whether he really thought it was feasible, he added: "I watched Eliud from the London Marathon pace car (last month).
"The roads were poor. It was a really hilly course. It was windy. And it didn't really have pacemakers who were effective as they weren't going fast enough. He still ran two hours two minutes...
"This will be very inspirational - and get kids putting running shoes on."
If anyone can achieve the feat, it is surely Kipchoge, 34, the reigning Olympic champion who holds the world record of 2hr 1min 39sec.
Two years ago at the Monza racetrack, he became the fastest man over 42.1km, although the 2:00:25 did not count as an official record because the race did not comply with the International Association of Athletics Federations' rules.
Kipchoge confirmed that similar banned tactics, including using a pace car that acts as a giant wind-shield and having a phalanx of pacemakers, would be used this time.
He explained: "It's about history, I really want to leave a big legacy.
"To get another chance to break the magical two-hour mark is incredibly exciting. I always say that no human is limited, and I know that it is possible."