VIENNA was chosen to host INEOS’ 1:59 Challenge after an extensive search that started with a map of the world and ended with a pinpoint in the Austrian capital.
DISTANCE FROM KENYA: 8571KM
TIME DIFFERENCE: -1HR FROM KENYA
ALTITUDE: 165M ABOVE SEA LEVEL
Scores of potential locations were considered but the team eventually settled on The Prater in Vienna.
Their decision was based on science, experience and the likelihood that the weather would be kind.
The team wanted somewhere that was within a three-hour time difference of Eliud’s training camp in Kaptagat, Kenya, to eliminate the effects of jet-lag.
They wanted somewhere where there was plenty of pure oxygen so he could push his body harder. He might live and train at almost 8,000ft above sea level, where the air is thinner, but it doesn’t lead to peak performances.
The team also drew invaluable lessons from Eliud’s first attempt to run a sub two-hour marathon in Monza, Italy, where humidity had caused a problem, making it difficult for sweat to evaporate.
So somewhere dry – and sheltered from the wind – were essential as the team searched for the perfect place.
Finally they needed a long, flat, straight course with as few corners as possible – and a place where crowds could watch the event.
“Finding a course to meet all those criteria was not easy,” said a spokesman for the INEOS 1:59 Challenge. “But we drew up a shortlist and visited all the sites. In the end, though, there was one, unanimous choice: The Prater.”
Vienna is just one hour behind Kenya, which means Eliud’s sleeping, eating and training regime should not be greatly affected by the location.
Climatically too it is ideal.
Vienna is 165 metres above sea level, and historic weather patterns of the city have shown there is a good chance that it will be cool in the mornings when Eliud likes to run.
“We have a responsibility to ensure he is given the best chance,” said Sir Jim Ratcliffe, INEOS Chairman and Founder.
Jim, a keen sportsman who has run more than 30 marathons himself, is full of admiration for Eliud.
“He is the only athlete in the world who has any chance of beating the two-hour time,” he said. “No-one has been able to achieve this. It’s not unlike trying to put a man on the Moon.”
Legendary athletics coach Franz Stampfl, who coached Roger Bannister to the world’s first sub-four-minute mile, was born in Vienna in 1913. Stampfl pioneered the science of interval training for distance runners.