Kipchoge: The Last Milestone is the story of one man attempting to run the first marathon in less than 2 hours. I came into the documentary very familiar with Eliud Kipchoge and this attempt. The filmmakers have a subject and a story that anyone could find compelling.
Running a marathon is hard. Running it fast is even harder. To put a sub-2 hour marathon in context imagine running one lap around a 400 meter track in 68 seconds. Now imagine doing that 105 consecutive times.
No human has ever run the 26.2 miles (42.2 kilometers) in less than 2 hours. The world record sits at 2:01:39. World records don’t happen often and when they do it’s only by seconds. It took from 2003 to 2018 to drop it from 2:04:55 to its current time. Humans are so close to 2 hours. Barriers are a funny thing. When one person shows something is possible more will follow. We saw it with the 4 minute mile where Roger Bannister first broke the barrier in 1954. Later that same year John Landy bested the time and Bannister’s time by 1.4 seconds. Today the world record is 3 minutes and 43 seconds. This is why running under 2 hours is so compelling.
Eliud Kipchoge is the greatest long-distance runner of all time. In his 15 competitive marathons he’s won 13 of them. He has 2 Olympic gold medals. That 2:01:39 world record? That was set by Eliud Kipchoge. Any time he runs something magical can and more often than not does happen.
The documentary does a very good job at providing this context. They put Eliud Kipchoge in perspective of his Kenyan roots. We all know Africans are great runners. What I didn’t know was the history of that culture and I found it fascinating.
I followed his attempt to break 2 hours in Vienna in 2019. I knew the outcome. I remembered a lot. The film did provide new information that I didn’t expect. It’s one man running the marathon but an entire team made it possible. The technical details that went into the planning the run was interesting. I loved the technical explanations. It toed the line well between too much and too simple.
The documentary shines by capturing the excitement and energy surrounding the attempt. It sounds boring to watch a man run for 2 hours. I can say that it captivated me during the live stream. The documentary brought back those emotions. You see the crowds live in Vienna cheering on the historic attempt. You see the crowds of the people in Kenya watching the stream. It is very emotional and very exciting.
The attempt had controversy. For starters it couldn’t be a world record since it didn’t happen in open competition. Then there was the shoes. This is where I felt the documentary could have expanded more. After two viewings I still didn’t feel it gave a satisfying answer on how much benefit it provided. This is where I may not be able to judge this section since I’m so close to the subject.
Despite that one knock, Kipchoge: The Last Milestone should resonate for everyone. It’s not limited to runners or those who love the sport of marathon. It is a human story about our collective limits.
Rating: 8 / 10
Note: This review was originally posted on Trakt on September 11, 2021.