Nike’s Breaking2 Marathon

After more than two years of research, preparation and testing and a two-month campaign, Nike finally launched its #Breaking2 marathon. The sportswear giant set out to make history by enlisting the world’s best runners in an attempt to break the two-hour barrier.


Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge, Eritrea’s Zersenay Tadese and Ethiopia’s Lelisa Desisa were the chosen trio by Nike to achieve the feat.


Along with the Twitter hashtag, Nike generated publicity around the event by creating a dramatic documentary celebrating the human spirit. The marathon was live streamed from a closed Formula One race track in Monza, Italy and people from all over the world tuned in to potentially witness this moment in history.


#Breaking2 was trending on the day as Kipchoge looked set to reach the historic mark. Unfortunately, he fell agonisingly short as he completed the marathon in a time of 2:00:23. I’m sure we’re all thinking the same thing here; just round it down and give the man the record.


But being the competitor he is, Kipchoge didn’t want to be handed it and instead had words of encouragement for those who will come after him.


“I want to tell the new generation to have hope…we are now just 25 seconds away,” he said.


Kipchoge shouldn’t be too disheartened, however, as he did set a new world record with his time, beating the 2:02:57 set by fellow Kenyan Dennis Kimetto at the Berlin Marathon.


Nike Breaking 2


So why did Nike do it? The main reason was, of course, to sell their new running shoes but in the process they were keen to challenge the current conceptions of what’s humanly possible.


“The sub-two-hour marathon is one of those epic barriers that people bust through,” Nike’s VP of Footwear Innovation, Tony Bignell, told Runner’s World. “It’s like breaking 10 seconds for the 100 meters or 4 minutes for the mile. At the end of the day, we just want to show it can be done. We want to show that it’s within the capability of human physiology.”


We all love seeing records broken and history created, so Nike certainly tapped into the fact that the general public has an interest in this. But above all, the Oregon-based brand saw a unique marketing opportunity and pounced.


According to Steve Magness, running coach, exercise physiologist and author of “The Science of Running”, the company that provides the shoe for the first sub-two-hour marathon will enjoy one of the biggest marketing opportunities the sport has ever seen.


“Running only gets to the masses every once in a while: the Boston Marathon, the Olympic Games,” Magness said. “This would be probably 50 times the exposure because it’s such a big barrier. The marketing [value] would be insane for a shoe company.”


With that in mind, it comes as no surprise that Nike has now set a precedent for this as rivals Adidas have become the next brand to take on this challenge.


As part of the launch for its AdiZero Sub2 shoe, Adidas has also called on runners to break the two-hour barrier. Though they haven’t confirmed when this will take place, we do know it’ll differ slightly from Nike, as it’ll be in a race setting.


It’s a new way for the sportswear market leaders to go against one another, but one that we’re definitely keeping a close eye on.