Ineos gets behind Kipchoge's attempt to break marathon barrier
Jim Ratcliffe, Britian’s richest man and owner of track cycling’s newly-rebranded Team Ineos, has announced he will financially support the attempt by Eliud Kipchoge, the fastest marathon runner of all time, to complete the event in under two hours, a feat nobody has achieved before.
The 34-year-old Kenyan already holds the world record marathon time of 2:01:39, although at an unofficial event two years ago in Monza, Italy, he did record a time of 2:00:25.
Ratcliffe, who owns Ineos, the petrochemical company now backing the former Team Sky cycling operation, said: “For athletics or endurance, this is the most extraordinary challenge that faces a human being. For any of us who do run, the concept of going for 42km at 2min 50sec a kilometre is unthinkable.”
Ratcliffe has insisted, as he did at the official launch of Team Ineos, the former Team Sky, last week that the sponsorship is not a case of 'sportswashing'.
Ineos, which owns several fracking sites in the north of England, was the subject of protests during cycling's recent Tour de Yorkshire from environmental activists unhappy that the cycling team has allied itself to a company that is one of the largest plastics producers worldwide.
Ratcliffe said: "We make $6 billion to $7 billion a year in profit. What’s wrong with investing a bit of that into sport, good challenges and some good people?”
The Guardian newspaper in the UK has reported that the world record attempt has been provisionally set for 13 October, and that a London circuit will be used.
Kipchoge confirmed that various speed-enhancing measures, including using a pace car as a giant windshield, would be implemented for the world record attempt. These measures do not comply with rules set down by the IAAF, athletics’ world governing body, but Kipchoge said: “It’s not about the IAAF, it’s about history.”
On the plans for the challenge, Ratcliffe said: “If we have it in London, it would need to be an iconic location that fulfils the performance criteria that’s flat and has a good surface."
Ratcliffe has been estimated by The Sunday Times Rich List to be worth around £21 billion, ($28 billion), and has previously been linked with a bid for English soccer club Chelsea. It was reported in June 2018 that he had made a £2-billion offer to buy the London team, but that the offer was turned down.
Asked last week whether he was still interested in Chelsea, Ratcliffe said: "You never say no, but I don't know where those conversations will finish. We've dipped our toe in the water with football, it's a very different sport."