UK chemicals firm INEOS is stepping up its investment in sport by backing Kenyan long-distance runner Eliud Kipchoge in his latest attempt to run the world's first sub-two-hour marathon.
The INEOS 1:59 Challenge will take place in late September or early October, with a venue currently being decided. A number of options that offer a flat-looped circuit are being considered for Kipchoge, who last month won his fourth London Marathon title.
Kipchoge has attempted to break the two-hour barrier before, when he clocked 2:00.25 in a specially-created, Nike-backed event in Monza, Italy in May 2017. This event, immortalised in Nike’s 'Breaking 2’ film, was not recognised as an official world record.
The announcement comes just a week after INEOS made its debut as the new principal partner of the cycling team formerly known as Team Sky.
Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Founder and Chairman of INEOS, said: “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. We are going to give him every support and hopefully witness sporting history.”
Kipchoge added: “I learnt a lot from my previous attempt and I truly believe that I can go 26 seconds faster than I did in Monza two years ago. It gives me great pride to accept the challenge presented by INEOS. I am very excited about the months of good preparation to come and to show the world that when you focus on your goal, when you work hard and when you believe in yourself, anything is possible.”
A major marketing campaign will be launched to publicise the run, with live coverage to be broadcast around the world on traditional channels, with The Playbook leading the digital activitaion. The challenge is expected to attract tens of thousands of spectators.
INEOS already sponsors the GO Run For Fun and The Daily Mile children’s running charities among its growing portfolio of sporting interests.
The newly-named Team INEOS made its debut at the Tour de Yorkshire last week and claimed a maiden victory thanks to Chris Lawless. INEOS was confirmed as the new owner and title partner of cycling outfit Team SKY in March.
In related news, Team INEOS has also renewed an existing (Team SKY) partnership with cycling and fitness products manufacturer Wahoo. The new deal will run through to the 2021 season.
As part of the agreement, Team INEOS has been using the KICKR wheel-off smart trainer for warm-ups and indoor training since 2014. From this year, the team will now rely on the full Wahoo indoor cycling ecosystem, which includes the KICKR CLIMB grade simulator, KICKR HEADWIND smart fan, KICKR DESK, and TICKR heart-rate monitor, at all events and during indoor training.
Image: Dan Vernon