News

Vienna named as venue for Eliud Kipchoge’s INEOS 1:59 Challenge

  • Historic attempt to take part in The Prater in the heart of the Austrian capital
  • Marathon is due to take place on the 12th October, with reserve window of eight days scheduled until the 20th October
  • Why Vienna proved to be the outstanding candidate to host the INEOS 1:59 Challenge follow this link for the full analysis

The historic city of Vienna, Austria, will host Eliud Kipchoge’s attempt to break the last great barrier in modern athletics, the sub two-hour marathon, in the INEOS 1:59 Challenge.

After an extensive worldwide assessment process, The Prater - the famous Viennese park - has been chosen by the INEOS 1:59 Challenge as the venue that will give Kipchoge (KEN) the optimum conditions to write himself into the history books.

The marathon will be held on a multi-lap, 9.6 kilometre course centred on Hauptallee, the iconic long, straight and tree-lined avenue which runs through the heart of The Prater.

Each lap will feature Kipchoge running two 4.3km out-and-back stretches of Hauptallee with the turning points coming at the Lusthaus and Praterstern roundabouts at either end of the avenue.

The event is due to take place on Saturday 12th October, with a reserve window of eight days scheduled until the 20th October, in case of adverse weather conditions.


Vienna was chosen after an extensive, global search because it provides:

  • A fast and flat track
  • A straight road, the 4.3km stretch of Prater Hauptallee
  • Consistent and optimum performance weather conditions in October
  • Fresh air – the park is described as the ‘green lung of Vienna’
  • Wide, traffic-free and illuminated roads
  • Ability to have supporters lining the route
  • Within a 3 hour time difference of where Kipchoge trains in Kenya
  • A proactive and welcoming local Mayor and experienced Vienna Marathon team

Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Chairman of INEOS, puts the challenge ahead into perspective. “Eliud Kipchoge is the greatest ever marathon runner and the only athlete in the world who has any chance of beating the two-hour time. Nobody's been able to achieve this. It’s not unlike trying to put a man on the moon. If Eliud runs 1:59 it will be the first time that any human has ever been able to break that barrier.”

“We have a responsibility to ensure he is given the best chance. After an extensive search of venues fitting Eliud’s criteria, we are delighted to be working with Vienna, and hope to see history made in October,” concluded Ratcliffe, a keen sportsman himself who has competed in over 30 marathons.

Kipchoge is preparing for his record attempt at his training camp in Kaptagat, Kenya. Speaking about the course selection Kipchoge said: “I've been informed Vienna has a fast and flat course, nicely protected by trees. The course is as well situated in the heart of this beautiful city which will enable a great number of spectators to be part of this historical event.”

Vienna facts:

  • The first recorded races in the city took place in 1740 and from 1820 The Prater became the heart of Vienna’s running community. The park remains the number one running venue in the city to this day and is at the heart of the annual Vienna City Marathon.
  • The Prater athletics track, the Vienna Athletics Centre, was also the location for a world distance running record by another Kenyan athlete, Henry Rono, in 1978.
  • Henry Rono ran 27:22:05 to break the world 10,000m record in Vienna where he was paced by Jos Hermens – the man who founded Global Sports Communication, the management agency of Kipchoge.
  • 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.


ENDS

MEDIA CENTRE

Media Contacts:

Nicolaas Heemskerk
e: Nicolaas.Heemskerk@ineos.com
t: +44 7581 386 928

Jo Grindley 
e: jo.grindley@ineosteamuk.com

INEOS Enquiries 
Richard Longden (INEOS) 
e: richard.longden@ineos.com
t: +41 21 627 7063 or +41 7996 26123

Andrew McLachlan (Media Zoo) 
e: andrew@mediazoo.tv 
t: +44 (0)7931 377162
D: 020 7384 6980

Notes To Editors:

  • The INEOS 1:59 Challenge is Eliud Kipchoge’s second attempt to become the first person in history to run a marathon distance (42.2KM) in under two hours. The attempt will take place in The Prater in Vienna, Austria, between 12th – 20th October 2019.
  • Eliud Kipchoge’s previous attempt to break the 2 hour barrier, in his sponsor Nike’s Breaking2 project, saw him finish on the Monza race track with a time of 2 hours and 25 seconds. He now needs to improve on this by 26 seconds, or one second per mile- a true challenge which he believes will be possible.
  • It is well recognised that if Eliud Kipchoge, the world’s greatest marathon runner and current world record holder, cannot break the 2 hour barrier at the peak of his career, it may be decades before we see another runner capable of the feat.
  • The INEOS 1:59 Challenge is being supported by INEOS, one of the world’s largest manufacturing companies, which also sponsors the children’s running programmes The Daily Mile and GO Run For Fun - with the aim to help children enjoy more regular exercise. INEOS also owns top cycle team, Team INEOS (bought from Team Sky in 2019) and is backing Sir Ben Ainslie with the INEOS TEAM UK bid to win the 2021 Americas Cup.
  • The INEOS 1:59 Challenge is also being supported by:
    • London Marathon Events Ltd, the organisers of the Virgin Money London Marathon – the most popular marathon in the world – and Prudential RideLondon, the world’s greatest festival of cycling, as well as five other mass-participation events: The Vitality Big Half, the Vitality Westminster Mile, Vitality London 10,000, Standard Chartered Great City Race and Children with Cancer UK Swim Serpentine.
    • Global Sport Communication serves as an athlete’s management agency for over 150 athletes from 20 different countries- managing the likes of Eliud Kipchoge, Kenenisa Bekele, Caterine Ibarguen and Almaz Ayana. Global Sports Communication is also organizationally involved in some of the world’s biggest and fastest road races and has its own sports marketing division focused on content creation and digital distribution.
    • Enterprise Sport Promotion, the organisers of the Vienna City Marathon, hold Austria’s biggest sports event in terms of active participation. The event is an IAAF Gold Label Road Race and attracts about 40,000 runners from 125 nations in the marathon and at various shorter distances. The team of the Vienna City Marathon was responsible for the course management at the UCI 2018 Road World Championships.
  • About The Prater, Vienna
    • The Prater is a large public park with a 4.3km long straight called Hauptallee leading through it.
    • It was once an imperial hunting ground and only accessible to the aristocracy
    • The Hauptallee was created in 1537/1538 to make the hunting grounds more accessible.
    • Austrian Emperor Josef II donated the area to the Viennese in 1766 as a public leisure centre.
    • The Prater held the World Exhibition in 1873 and is home to the famous Wiener Riesenrad (Vienna Giant Wheel), which famously featured in the film “The Third Man”.
    • The Hauptallee is lined with horse chestnut trees, closed to motorists and is used in the annual Vienna City Marathon.