Ahead of the Berlin Marathon this past weekend, Nike released the latest spot in its “Just Do It” series, a contemplative short film from Wieden & Kennedy featuring the steady patter of sneakers against pavement, as motivational affirmations scroll past in lane paint. As the camera slowly pans around, the runner is revealed to be Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, the world’s top distance athlete.
It was good timing on Nike’s part. On Sunday, Kipchoge broke the marathon world record in Berlin, shattering the previous record by 78 seconds and covering the 26.2 miles in two hours, two minutes and 57 seconds, a sustained pace of 12.78 miles per hour. That’s a 4:38 mile, 26 times in a row without a break. “Fastest Ever,” indeed.
Kipchoge’s feat is a significant leap towards the eventual goal of breaking the 2-hour marathon barrier, something no one has yet accomplished, though Kipchoge himself came closest in Nike’s unofficial, award-winning attempt to do just that in 2017.
“Breaking2” brought Kipchoge and two other runners, Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadese and Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa, together to see if it could be done under optimal conditions. Kipchoge fell just 25 seconds short of the goal but failed to recreate his showing at that year’s Berlin Marathon, though he still won handily.
Whether Kipchoge’s new 2018 record will stand long or will be quickly broken--by the record-holder himself or another--remains to be seen. But the world’s runners have another goal to strive for. The two-hour mark seems much closer than it was just a few days ago.
Isaiah Seret of Biscuit Filmworks directed the ad.