Kipchoge : The Last Milestone (2021) - 7/10
Updated: Sep 22, 2021
I was expecting another running documentary. I’ve watched a lot of them. This is a different beast though. It’s very stylised in places, beautifully shot sequences flexing the £4.5 mil budget. Maybe not a huge surprise with Ridley Scott’s son Jake at the helm. It doesn’t lose its focus though. This is Eliud Kipchoge’s attempt to be the first human to run a marathon in under 2 hours. There was a lot of hype around this when it took place in Vienna in October 2019, so there’s no real surprises. How many people know that much about Kipchoge though, aside the world records and that he makes distance running look ridiculously easy. Here we get stories from trainers, coaches, pacemakers, physios, Eliud himself. Not just about the attempt, that’s just the current goal, but the bedrock of running and being a runner. He’s clearly gifted, built to run fast, trains hard, but there’s lots of athletes like that. It’s the mental strength that’s the focus. That’s the engine. That’s not unique either, but Kipchoge seems to have everything in perfect balance. We know he’s the best. The greatest marathon runner of all time, he must know it too, but it doesn’t seem to effect him, he’s the definition of humble. A genuinely nice person. Just seeing himself as part of the machine striving for something historical. There’s lots of detail. How high altitude training works. Genetics. Culture. Colonial politics. Pain threshold. Failed attempts and BELIEF. I’ve heard a lot about the use of pacemakers, lights measuring the perfect line and of course shoes. How all this stuff delegitimises this record. Utter bollocks. It might help focus the mind, but it would probably implode a few too. The fact is, running at that pace for 2 hours would destroy 99.99% humans on the planet. The fact that Kipchoge embraces it is what makes him special. Dave Beresford features quite a lot as the logistics man around the attempt in Vienna with his “marginal gains”. The course choice, fuelling, formation, the tech, the team. This is where the science comes in… and the machine of a branding exercise. Visually for a period it becomes the INEOS challenge rather than Kipchoge. He’s merely a vessel. I suspect though that he doesn’t mind that, it takes the pressure off… if indeed he ever feels any. What I love about running is the simplicity of it. Grab shoes. Go (probably shorts too). It seems a bit ludicrous the amount of fuss and staging for this, but then the challenge is ludicrous. 26.1 miles in under 2 hours, how is that possible? Driving music, slomo shots, Kipchoge in white on his own surrounded by the pacemakers in black, it’s built for drama. The target is an average of 13mph, the numbers are staggering. The teamwork though is absolutely beautiful. The entire goal, to make it as easy for Kipchoge as possible. A remarkable sacrifice from everyone that ran that day, but also the opportunity to be part of something truly unique, truly inspiring. It’s not easy, it’s fraught with things that can go wrong, but at the core Kipchoge is calm, focussed, fast. That’s the takeaway. This attempt is not about headlines, technology, controversy. It’s one bloke. Running. Like no one has ever done before. “No human is limited”.