The whole world is inspired by the recent successful sub-two hour marathon achievement by Kenyan marathoner Eliud Kipchoge, gold-medalist at the Rio Olympics and the fastest marathoner on the planet! One hour, 59 minutes and 40 seconds!!

Eliud Kipchoge (white vest), world record holder, Olympic champion and the greatest marathon runner of all time, with his dream team of pacemakers as he prepares for his attempt to become the first man in history to run a sub two hour marathon in the INEOS 1:59 Challenge in Vienna on Saturday 12 October 2019. The team of pacemakers includes; Filip Ingebrigtsen (NOR)
Henrik Ingebrigtsen (NOR), Jakob Ingebrigtsen (NOR), Jacob Kiplimo (UGA), Marius Kipserem (KEN), Eric Kiptanui (KEN), Gideon Kipketer (KEN), Abdallah Mande (UGA), Ronald Musagala (UGA), Chala Regasa (ETH)
Hillary Bor (USA), Jonathan Korir (KEN), Julian Wanders (SUI), Paul Chelimo (USA), Philemon Kacheran (KEN), Nicholas Rotich (KEN), Shadrack Kipchirchir (USA), Victor Chumo (KEN), Stanley Kebenei (USA), Augustine Choge (KEN), Kota Murayama (JPN), Noah Kipkemboi (KEN), Shadrack Koech (KEN), Moses Koech (KEN), Selemon Barega (ETH), Bernard Lagat (USA), Patrick Tiernan (AUS), Stewart McSweyn (AUS), Thomas Ayeko (UGA), Emmanuel Bett (KEN), Timothy Toroitich (UGA), Micah Kogo (KEN), Lopez Lamong (USA), Kaan Kigan Ozbilen (TUR) and Ayeko Joel (USA). The INEOS 1:59 Challenge. 9 October 2019.
Photo: Bob Martin for The INEOS 1:59 Challenge

The sub-2 hour marathon was the subject of a talk that meditation master and sports lover Sri Chinmoy gave some years ago on the eve of the New York City Marathon, when 370 of his meditation students ran in this famous race. He commented that a sub 2-hour time was possible on 60 miles a week of training if a certain state of awareness and consciousness could be attained, emphasising the role that spirit and mind play in sports.

 Sri Chinmoy spoke of four essential qualities or achievements necessary to run such a race. First was gratitude: during training runs and racing, the athlete must consciously offer gratitude to Mother Earth, a reference not just to the physical planet upon which we live but also to the deeper Spirit which creates, sustains, and transforms all of creation. Over the years he often spoke of gratitude as a quality through which we can reach our highest potential, and has written: “Gratitude is a miracle-action in us. This miracle-action strengthens our physical body, purifies our vital energy, widens our mental vision and intensifies our physical delight.”

The second achievement of the necessary four was the need for inner peace – the runner must aspire toward, attain and sustain peace of mind. In a conversation with marathoner Gary Fanelli Guru once commented: If inside us there is peace, then we will derive tremendous strength from our inner life. That is to say, if I have a peaceful moment, even for one second, that peace will come to me as solid strength in my sports, whether I am running or jumping or throwing. That strength is almost indomitable strength, whereas if we are restless, we do not have strength like that.”

The third aspect required is the necessity for the runner to have purity in the vital. By bringing purity into our vital energy, we can access and channel an unlimited source of energy – this purified vital energy becomes manifest as enthusiasm and eagerness and power, uplifting the runner to new levels of speed and endurance.

The fourth and final piece of advice Sri Chinmoy shared was the necessity of bringing discipline into the physical body, the aspect of training. Where the first Nike-sponsored sub-2 hour attempt at Monza in 2017 focused very much on external factors – footwear, nutrition, ideal surfaces, ideal weather, training regimes and physiology- for Sri Chinmoy this physical aspect was only one of four requirements, underscoring the mind-body-spirit relationship in any transcendence.

The body and the soul must go together, like the inner life and the outer life which must go together. In sports we need energy, strength and dynamism. When we meditate, we make our mind calm and quiet. When it is a matter of self-transcendence, we have to depend on our inner purity, inner love, vastness and oneness with the rest of the world…..’

And elsewhere he comments: “We can draw upon the cosmic energy by entering into our deeper consciousness, the all-pervading consciousness, which is here, there, everywhere. It is the inmost consciousness that touches the springs of the cosmic energy. If we can have a free access to our inmost consciousness, the cosmic energy is bound to come to the fore. If you go deep within it comes like a spring, a never-failing spring. And when it comes, it permeates the whole body.”

Of interest is Kipchoge’s own discoveries and comments on the similar attributes he also referred to, the necessity of harnessing the power of the mind through belief, peacefulness, a one-pointed focus and discipline, will power and unwavering determination – the relationship of the multiple aspects of mind, body, spirit in transcending the seemingly impossible.