In a surprise announcement, Nike said early today that it had succeeded in its highly publicized attempt to achieve a sub-2-hour marathon.
In an equally surprising twist, the company said the feat had been accomplished not on an Italian motor-racing circuit—as had been planned for this weekend—but at Nike's headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. Specifically, in one of its laboratories.
"We are thrilled to announce," Nike Senior Vice President Hans Blix told reporters at a hastily assembled news conference, "that our scientists have created the world's first sub-2-hour marathon—in a test tube."
"Is it synthetic?" he asked. "Yes.
"But it is sub-2. And that's all that matters."
Blix explained that the company's Breaking2 team had learned early on that running a marathon in the physical world "simply involved too many unpredictable variables."
"We could time the thing just right, choose the perfect venue, prepare and equip our athletes to within an inch of their lives," he said, "but in the end, we just could not control everything."
"In a pristine and sterile lab, however, we realized that we could enjoy absolute control over every single variable. That was a lightbulb moment."
Without divulging the details, Blix said, Nike scientists, through trial and error, had finally "perfected its recipe," assembling precisely the right ingredients in just the right proportions for a 1:59:59 marathon finish.
He opened a steel-encased, climate-controlled box, using tongs to gingerly extract a small test tube containing what appeared to be a clear liquid.
"Ladies and gentlemen," he said, "I give you... the world's first lab-grown sub-2 marathon."
He quickly returned the test tube to its case, noting that "Sub2," as the company is calling it, was highly unstable and could exist only under narrowly defined conditions.
It was unclear how the three Nike-backed runners in Italy reacted to this news, which came as they began last-minute preparations for their own stab at "Breaking2."
In his remarks, however, Blix said that since Nike scientists had "won this particular race," a physical attempt would be redundant. Therefore, he said, the event in Italy would be turned into an untimed fun run.
"In conclusion, and I cannot stress this enough," said Blix, "let me just say that the Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4% will be available June 8 on nike.com and at select retailers."