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Nike Breaking 2 project: is it what athletics needs?

by Robert Britton
Wednesday 21st December 2016
So you may have seen recently that Nike are going to break 2 hours for the marathon in 2017. That’s 4:35 per mile for 26.2 miles and almost three minutes off of the current World Record set by Dennis Kimetto. Nike clearly think Dennis should pull his finger out.
The whole idea of the sub 2 hour marathon has been getting some press recently, with Ed Caesar writing a book, the Sub2 Project set up by Anthony Pitsiladis and co, and now Nike have make a big announcement about how they’re going to do it.
Now I’m not one to make my opinions about Nike known, but I’m not their biggest fan. They make fantastic kit, brilliant adverts and are an extremely well-run business. They support numerous national teams and fund many athletes.
On the other side of the coin, the ethics of the production methods of those fantastic bits of kit have been heavily criticised in the past (although they have strived to improve on that front when it affected their sales), they support wonderful repeat drug cheats like Justin Gatlin and a selection of coaches associated with Nike, like Alberto Salazar and Jama Aden, are under investigation for anti-doping violations.
Now as a business and marketing move this whole sub 2 hour project is a wonderful thing. I take my hat off to Nike for once again filling the world of athletics with their name, but what I wonder is if it’s actually good for the world of athletics.
A sport that is on its back because of doping scandals, bribes and lack of credibility, athletics and road running is in a delicate state. Nike-sponsored Russia were all doping, yet only won a small amount of the medals at the Olympics. Surely if they’re all on the best drugs around, then they should be winning more than that? 
A big announcement about running a sub 2 hour marathon, that Nike have admitted won’t be valid for record purposes, is just a massive publicity stunt. You have to hand it to Nike, they are fantastic at publicity and everyone is talking about their brand, they will sell more shoes and many runners will continue to think that Nike is just fantastic.
There has already been talk of wind-assisted, non-record eligible courses and swathes of pace makers to make the task achievable. Is this even in the spirit of the sport? If the whole thing is downhill then you might as well be pumping the athlete full of EPO as well. Fuck it, go the whole hog.
Instead of trying to push this damaged sport further and cheating our way to a sub 2 hour marathon, why can’t we be patient and allow the sport to progress as it should? I firmly believe there will be a sub 2 hour marathon one day, just not next year or this decade. 
A runner doesn’t grow up dreaming of being a doper, he doesn’t start running with the intention of cheating to win, but along the way this happens. What we should be talking about are the factors that cause this. Is pressure from sponsors and the public a factor in this or is it all down to the individual?
Some of you will see me as a sceptic, a hater, a troll, but so be it. I’m a big fan of chasing the seemingly impossible but everything needs a realistic timeline. What has happened to being patient in this day and age?
To finish I’ll take my cue from one of the greatest Nike athletes of all time:
‘I’m sorry I can’t dream big. I’m sorry I don’t believe in miracles.’ 

All views are Robbie Britton's (and shared by many others he's spoken to)

About The Author

Robert Britton

Robbie is a 100 mile runner who is a member of the Great Britain 24hr Running Squad and Team Centurion and likes to run ridiculous distances as quickly as possible.

To provide enough food to feed a monster running habit, Robbie coaches other ultra marathon runners through www.robbiebritton.co.uk and is also a member of the coaching team at Centurion Running. He likes to dabble with a bit of writing so that others can learn from his mistakes and enjoy the sport as much as he does.

Robbie is also a is a Profeet ambassador.


"Pain is inevitable, suffering is just part of the fun"


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