'We are human' - Eliud Kipchoge just 26 seconds short of marathon landmark
Olympic champion Eliud Kipchoge has fallen just 26 seconds short of becoming the first person to run a marathon in less than two hours.
Kipchoge ran 26.2 miles around an oval track in an impressive two hours, 25 seconds, smashing Dennis Kimetto's world mark of 2:02:57 by two and a half minutes and raising hopes that one of world sport's most famous barriers can be broken.
"We are human," Kipchoge said. "I am happy that I've reduced by two and a half minutes the world record."
The 32-year-old Kenyan added: "We are going up the tree. I have lifted a branch and I am going onto the next one. This is not the end of the attempt of runners on two hours."
Widely considered the best marathon runner in the world, Kipchoge did break his personal best time of 2:03:05, which was set at the London Marathon last year.
Kimetto set the world mark in Berlin in 2014.
Organisers first listed Kipchoge's time as a second faster, then changed it to 25 seconds off the two-hour mark.
"I rank this as the highest-ever performance in my life," Kipchoge said.
"The aim of 'Breaking2' was to pass the message that running a less than two-hour marathon is possible. That message is really special to me."
It was not a road race, with runners completing 17.5 laps around the 1.5-mile Monza Formula One track.
The Breaking2 project was held on the 63rd anniversary of Roger Bannister breaking the four-minute mile in 1954.
Kipchoge's time did not go down as an official world record, sanctioned by the IAAF, due to variables such as pacers entering mid-race and drinks being given to runners via mopeds.
After three years of planning, Nike's audacious attempt at breaking the two-hour barrier remained just that, despite the aid of a shoe which its designers say will make runners 4% more efficient.
The Monza track was selected after extensive research that included average temperature, air pressure and wind levels.
Kipchoge ran in his trademark relaxed style and passed the halfway mark in 59:54, but his average pace of 4:36 per mile was just not enough, despite his final sprint to the tape.
He would have needed an average of less than 4:35 per mile - an improvement of about seven seconds per mile on Kimetto's record, or around 2.5%.
"I tried to maintain the pace," Kipchoge said. "As a human you are not a machine, so you cannot go 2:50 exactly, and those micro-seconds really have an effect."