Nike has drawn plaudits from rival Adidas for its Breaking2 initiative despite the runners involved failing to break the two-hour marathon mark as hoped.
The sportswear giant trained three runners, Eliud Kipchoge, Lelisa Desisa and Zersenay Tadese, to break the ambitious time with the help of experts.
The move attracted controversy after Nike paid the athletes to skip the prestigious London and Berlin marathons so they could attempt the feat on 6 May at the Monza Formula One racetrack.
Kipchoge, 32, was the fastest of the three runners, recording a time of two hours and 25 seconds, which was two minutes faster than the previous world record held by Dennis Kimetto at two hours, two minutes and 57 seconds.
The feat even drew praise from Nike’s global rival, Adidas. In a tweet, Adidas said: “Congratulations @EliudKipchoge on such a courageous run.”
However, the time will not be recorded as an official world record because the Breaking2 marathon used runners who ran ahead to set the pace and were subbed in and out, contrary to International Association of Athletics Federations rules.
Nike posted live video of the event on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. By the evening of the race, the livestream was viewed 4.9 million times. The brand promoted the event on Twitter with ads promoting the #Breaking2 hashtag in the run-up and had claimed breaking the two-hour mark was “impossible”.
But Matt Nurse, vice-president of the Nike Sport Research Lab, has suggested the brand may try other “moonshots” in which it helps athletes to achieve extraordinary feats.
This article first appeared in www.campaignlive.co.uk
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