Nike, Inc. is the primary backer of "Breaking2," the much-ballyhooed project to break the 2-hour barrier in the marathon, Dumb Runner has learned.
The footwear and athletic gear maker, which operates out of Beaverton, Oregon, had tried to keep its sponsorship of the Breaking2 effort under wraps. But documents and interviews with people close to the project confirm that the publicity-shy company not only is bankrolling the project but was responsible for its very inception.
"This whole thing was Nike's idea," said one source, who requested anonymity because she was not authorized to praise the company publicly. "They're the ones who formulated the plan, came up with the 'Breaking2' name, all of it. But they're the last ones who would ever mention it. They really don't like the attention."
That account was verified by several independent sources, including one current Nike employee who also insisted on anonymity.
"(Nike has) poured a lot of money into this thing," he told Dumb Runner. "Of course, the top brass didn't want anyone to know that. That's just their nature. Nike has always done this great stuff, but they get embarrassed when folks make a big fuss. They think big headlines and all that is unseemly. So they prefer to operate in the background, doing their work and just helping people out."
"Knowing that they're supporting runners," he added, "is all the satisfaction they need."
True to its nature, the company, via a spokesman, declined an interview request. It did, however, release this statement:
"Reports that Nike, Inc. backs the Breaking2 project are true. We are proud to have provided monetary, technological, and logistical support for this exciting athletic endeavor, and are grateful and humbled to be part of it. That said, we hope that the spotlight remains where it belongs—not on us, but on the runners chasing this epic goal.
"The last thing we want is to see the Nike name splashed all over the media. Thank you in advance for respecting our desire for privacy."
The first Breaking2 attempt is scheduled to happen this weekend at a motor-racing track in northern Italy.