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#breaking2 – success from failure

#breaking2 – success from failure

by Andy Maciver

Three minutes seems a fairly negligible chuck of time to shave off a race lasting two hours. In the car, you’d back yourself to be able to shave three minutes off a two hour journey by depressing the right foot just a little bit more.

But, on feet in a marathon, it’s not quite so easy. Elite marathon runners – extremely light, with tiny body fat percentages and lean muscles – are operating at 100%. The world record – standing at 2 hours, 2 minutes and 57 seconds since Dennis Kipruto Kimetto ran the Berlin Marathon in 2014 – seemed a world away from sinking under 2 hours.

Enter Nike. It’s #breaking2 marketing push is built around a running shoe – the Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4% – which it claims gives an athlete an extra 4% efficiency. It seems plausible enough. Kimetto couldn’t do 2.03 running in cowboy boots, so it’s logical that the appropriateness of the footwear makes a difference.

Nike hired 3 elite runners from its stable, including Eliud Kipchoge, to try to ‘break 2’ in its new shoe around the Monza race track. The outcome? Kipchoge ran 2 hours and 25 seconds – close but no cigar, as they say.

So what? What difference does that make to Nike? The sportswear giant has taken some flak over the last week from people who say this is about selling trainers, not breaking records. Well, duh, of course it’s about selling trainers! That’s their job.

As a mechanism for doing so, #breaking2 has been a majestic piece of marketing. Sales of the Vaporfly have been brisk, to put it mildly.

#breaking2 failed, but it was a massive success. And since nobody ‘broke 2’, now they can do it all again.