Adeel poses yet another interesting question over at the Complete Running Network when he asks, “Is a 2-hour marathon possible?”
It is a great question, and I believe that the answer is yes. Somebody will sooner or later run a 2 hour marathon. The question, however, is how legit of an effort will that be. Paul Tergat, the current record holder at 2:04:55, does not believe it is possible. However, he is in his 30s and ran an amazing race. Who is to say that some stud in his mid to late 20s will not find some way of breaking the barrier? Roger Bannister had never seen a mile run in under 4 minutes before.
I think that it will happen. I hope that it happens within the next decade, when I am still at least moderately competitive at the distance. And no, I do not expect to ever run that fast; I will be happy with a two and a half hour effort. I just hope that when it happens, it is not somebody who is later found to have cheated through the use of steroids.
I think that in order for there to be a two hour effort a few things will have to happen. There will need to be near-perfect weather conditions with an extremely competitive field. There will need to be a young challenger that throws all of the competitive strategy of his more experienced challengers to the wind, and at least one or two of them will need to go with him to keep him honest. As Adeel mentions, that is basically how Paul Tergat ran his record.
I think that it would be an exciting thing to watch, and I hope that I see it. It will happen some day.