Kelvin Kiptum lowered the men’s marathon world record by a whopping 34 seconds at the Chicago Marathon in early October. It’s the next 36 seconds, however, that loom larger in the sport as it chases a historic milestone: a sub-two hour marathon.
The two-hour mark is to the marathon what a four-minute mile was before Roger Bannister broke the barrier in 1954. Both milestones are arbitrary—they possess the allure of a nice round number—yet the pursuit of them has propelled athletes to change their approach to running.
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