In the 2018 Berlin marathon, Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge set a new world record of 2:01:39 - slicing an astounding 1 minute 18 seconds from one of athletics' most prestigious records. Two members of the Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team also ran the race, and shared this unique experience with us.
To put Kipchoge's record in perspective, it is the equivalent to running 400m in 68.8 seconds - 100 times consecutively. Kipchoge's average pace for the record was 4:38.4 per mile, or 14:24.9 per 5K!
The two Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team runners - native Berliner Samalya Schäfer and Sadanand Magee from Ireland - both achieved a sub three-hour marathon, with Sadanand reaching this long-cherished goal for the first time.
Elated with setting a new sub-3 hour personal best (2.58.57), Sadanand related how the race felt extra special because of Kipochoge's record: “It was an incredible day. It was so special to run on the same day as Kipchoge and follow in the footsteps of the elite runners. Sri Chinmoy once commented that runners could help their own marathon by trying to tap into the intensity and speed of the top runners. So, as we ran along the blue line of the marathon course, I tried to focus on the speed and intensity of the best runners who were just ahead.”
“For myself, it has been a difficult build-up in the past few weeks, with a few minor injuries and a busy schedule. After km 32, the race became much tougher and I really had to work very hard to keep it together. When I finally came through the finish, we were over the moon to make it in under sub-three hours. But then, walking onwards, we heard a loudspeaker announce that the world record had been broken by Eliud Kipchoge. Everyone was really happy and celebrating; it made the whole occasion very memorable.”
“Berlin is an incredible marathon. The streets are lined with countless people who are really enthusiastic in offering support to all runners from the fastest to the slowest."
Training for a sub-three hour marathon
Sadanand, who owns the Gandharva Loka music store on Dublin's Georges St, has been running marathons for over a decade, with a previous best of 3:03, but this year he made a renewed effort to finally crack the three-hour barrier. Despite the pressure of moving this year to a bigger music store, he made his running a priority, and stuck to a strict training regime designed by fellow team-mate Abhinabha Tangerman from the Netherlands. During the race, Sadanand was also helped in pacing by Samalya, who a few weeks earlier ran 2.33.47 in winning the Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence Marathon in New York.
Sri Chinmoy was himself a keen runner and took a special interest in the concept of self-transcendence - the goal of man to strive for higher goals and go beyond the previous limits of past generations. In the 1980s and 1990s, Sri Chinmoy predicted that in the near future, someone would realise their capacity to run a sub-two hour marathon. Speaking after the 1988 New York City Marathon, when Steve Jones ran 2:08:05, Sri Chinmoy said “Somebody has to come from Africa and break the record. Under two hours — I envision it. Somebody will run under two hours.” With Kipchoge getting ever closer, this dream of a sub-two hour marathon could now happen in the near future.