Nike: Breaking2

Channeling their inner Bannister and Hillary (Sir Edmund, not Clinton), Nike have gone full gas on breaking the 2hr barrier for the marathon.

Assembling a team of athletes and scientists they are looking to push the boundaries of what’s considered possible with the human body.

It’s a staggering challenge, to knock one of the most competitive, and challenging, world records off its current pedestal and beat it by a further 3%breaking2_group_lelisa_zersenay_eliud_original

Having selected a stellar class of athletes Nike are aiming to drive performance boundaries and achieve a time of 1.59:59 in the first half of 2017.

To help achieve this feat, Nike is working with a diverse team of leaders across several fields of science and sport. It is a holistic approach to athletes, product, training, nutrition and environment.

Breaking2 explores the unknown and provides an opportunity to explore whether the impossible is within reach. It is the ultimate embodiment of Nike’s mission: To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete on the planet.su17_rn_breaking2_hero_group_2_native_600

The Mission

In 1954, Sir Roger Bannister ran the first four-minute mile. Bannister didn’t just break a record; he redefined what athletes were capable of, providing inspiration and confidence to others. Within one year, 24 other runners accomplished the same feat.

Q&A with Nikezersenay_breaking2_original

What is Breaking2?

Breaking2 is Nike’s moonshot attempt at a sub 2-hour marathon time. We are looking to unlock human potential through athletes, product innovation, training and environment, to run what has never been run.

How are you approaching this? 

To help achieve this feat, Nike is working with a diverse team bringing together world class expertise across several fields of science and sport.  We are taking a holistic approach to athletes, product innovation, environment (so course and conditions), training, nutrition and hydration, to try reduce the existing fastest marathon time by at least 3% (1hr 59 mins, 59 secs).

Why is Nike doing this? 

Nike has always obsessed helping athletes to perform at their highest possible level. Fueled by a passion for running and the audacious, unimaginable goal of 1 hour, 59 minutes and 59 seconds, we are challenging our own innovators to bring a bold vision to life.

By attempting to break the 2-hour marathon we can challenge the perception of what’s possible in sport, reset the expectations of product and garner incredible insight into the sport of running. These learnings can be applied across everything we do, from product to services, to ultimately serve runners* to be better.

What skillset is the team made up of? 

We have assembled a passionate and diverse team that brings together world-class expertise across physiology, bioengineering, design, biomechanics, temperature regulation, materials development, sports psychology, coaching and race day strategy! It’s an incredible blend of art and science aligning to achieve the same audacious goal.

Who are the team and what role do they play? 

The collective Nike team is a broad, multi-disciplinary group that brings together world-class expertise across physiology, bioengineering, design, biomechanics, temperature regulation, materials development, coaching and race day strategy.  We will share details of the Nike team as the attempt unfolds

We are also partnering with a team of internationally renowned experts bringing unique additional perspectives in the areas of human bioenergetics, applied sport science and training, aerodynamics, and predictive performance analytics.

THE ATHLETES

Who are the elite athletes involved in Breaking2?


Eliud Kipchoge – Kenya

Lelisa Desisa – Ethiopia

Zersenay Tadese – Eritrea

Who are their coaches? 

Lelisa Desisa- Haji Adele

Zersenay Tedese- Jeronimo Bravo

Eliud Kipchoge –Patrick Sang

How were the elite athletes selected? 

A number of factors were considered. We know the athletes who will be making this attempt have the ability, desire, passion and potential to redefine the record books. We have spent a long time to exploring many dimensions of their performance like the maximum oxygen an athlete can consume; the critical speed, or threshold an athlete is capable of maintaining; and the energy required; to their economy of running.

We know that these runners are perfectly equipped and wanting to run something that has never been run before.

If you break the WR mark or the sub two-hour mark, will it be considered an official record?

If not, what’s the point? 

This is not about chasing a world record; it is about changing the game.

Breaking2 is about attacking a barrier and unlocking human potential to break that barrier. We believe that once the sub 2-hour barrier is broken in any capacity we will see official times fall.

By attempting to break the 2-hour marathon we can challenge the perception of what’s possible in sport, reset the expectations of product and garner incredible insight into the sport of running. These learnings can be applied across everything we do, from product to services, to ultimately serve runners* to be better.eliud_breaking2_original

If I’m not an elite runner.  Why should I care? What does this mean for me and the rest of the world?  What do we gain from this? 

We believe that what we are doing can change the face of running for every runner. We will take the information we learn in nutrition, movement, sport data science, data analytics, product design, physical geography, training, climate, psychology, rest, nutrition, wind resistance and hydration – and share it with our community through product and Nike+ Run Club.

Is this just an attempt to take the Oregon Project a step further? Is this project connected to any of the Track Clubs Nike currently sponsors?

This attempt is not connected to the Oregon Project.

How is Nike’s effort different from the Sub2HR project? Are these efforts related in any capacity? What are you bringing to this effort that Yannis Pitsiladis isn’t? 

Breaking2 is an independent effort that Nike is leading to break the 2-hour marathon. This is the holy grail of distance running, and we are excited at the possibility of empowering our athletes to achieve this incredible goal, with our expertise and product innovation. In any sport there are a number of players, and we have developed the approach that we’re confident in.

In a time where doping is a key topic within the running community, is this the moment to focus on pushing athletes to the extreme? 

We believe in clean and ethical approach to sport. We also believe in unlocking human potential to inspire athletes everywhere.

Will athletes be tested for doping prior-to and throughout Breaking2? How will this process be managed?

Nike does not condone the use of performance enhancing drugs in any manner.  We will be using an independent third party to follow the same protocol that is used by the major marathons.

You say this effort is about enabling human potential, but isn’t this really just about Nike?  

Our mission statement is to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. We can deliver innovation that empowers and enables athletes to break boundaries – whatever their boundaries might be. From their first mile to their fastest.

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