The Sub-Two Hour Marathon: Applying an Engineering Lens to Understand How Eliud Kipchoge Did the Impossible, Lola Wheeler, UG '23 (2833924)
This research project successfully provided insight into what it took to break, what is often referred to as, the “impossible barrier” – finishing a marathon in under 2 hours. In particular, this project helped quantify the drag reduction that was possible as a result of having rotating pacemakers in an organised formation. I have quantified a difference in drag that was found between the two sub-2-hour exhibition events – Breaking2 and INEOS 1:59. By using both the wind tunnel and CFD simulations, the difference was found to equate to 12 seconds. Although we await a time when a ratified marathon world record is under 2 hours, this achievement of Kipchoge and INEOS cannot go unpraised. There were multiple lessons learned from Breaking2 and then INEOS 1:59, that will likely contribute to breaking 2 hours according to World Athletics’ rules in years to come. Kipchoge’s run in the INEOS 1:59 event will long be noted as a historical moment. The credit is owed to Kipchoge, but the engineering innovations of INEOS undoubtedly helped.