Kipchoge Defends Decision to Use Electric Scooter in Sub-2:00 Marathon Attempt

Eliud Kipchoge, the marathon world record holder, is defending his decision to use an electric scooter in his next sub-2:00-hour marathon attempt, saying his critics are missing the larger point of his quest.

The Kenyan first attempted to break the 2:00-hour marathon barrier in 2017’s Breaking2 spectacle, finishing in 2:00:25; his next attempt, dubbed the INEOS 1:59 Challenge, is scheduled for October.

As before, Kipchoge will run on a closed course specifically chosen for its lack of hills and sharp turns—the event’s website says the course is “90% straight”—and he will run with a series of pacers, behind a wind-blocking lead car. The attempt will take place between October 12 and October 20, a window that will let Kipchoge’s team choose favorable weather conditions.

Because of such “contrived conditions,” critics have said, these sub-2:00 efforts are little more than publicity stunts.

Those same critics howled earlier this week when Kipchoge announced that Zippē scooters had joined INEOS as a sponsor for the project, and that he would use one of the company’s motorized products during his record attempt.

Doing so, critics argued, would clearly give him an unfair advantage—a charge that Kipchoge shrugged off.

“The INEOS 1:59 Challenge is about the human spirit and inspiring people to rethink what’s possible,” Kipchoge said during a conference call with reporters. “At the time of my previous attempt to break this barrier, some faulted me for wearing special shoes that make running 4% more efficient, others for running with pacers behind a wind-blocking vehicle.”

“And now,” he continued, sighing, “I’m being criticized for my plan to cover parts of the course on a motorized scooter. With some people, you cannot win.”

Kipchoge stressed that he would ride the scooter only for short periods of his sub-2:00 attempt and that his pacers would be barred from using them at all.

“In the end,” he said, “I am still covering 26.2 miles, and I am still out there striving to show all of humanity that barriers exist only in our minds.”

“That is what’s important.”