Kenyan long distance king Eliud Kipchoge made athletics history on Saturday when he became the first person to run a marathon in under two hours.
The 34 year old Olympic champion and world record holder smashed the barrier by 20 seconds, finishing in one hour 59.40 minutes.
It was regarded as the biggest achievement in athletics since Briton Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile in 1954 and was likened by Kipchoge himself to landing on the moon.
“Today we went to the moon and came back to earth! I am at a loss for words for all the support I have received from all over the world,” he said.
However, it was not recognised as a world record by the sport’s governing International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) as it was not in open competition and used 41 rotating pacemakers.
As the pacemakers peeled away for the last kilometre, Kipchoge accelerated down the final straight, smiled and pointed at people in the crowd who gave him a rousing reception.
“From the first kilometre, I was really comfortable,” he said after before being mobbed by his team mates.
“I have been training for this for four and a half months, I have been putting my heart and mind to run under two hours for a marathon and make history.
“I am feeling good. After Roger Bannister it took another 65 years to make history,” he added. “Now I’ve gone under two hours to inspire other people and show the world nobody is limited.”
Although the IAAF did not recognise the run, its president, Sebastian Coe, had said he was in favour of such events and argued that it was not a huge issue if they were not recognised by the sport’s governing body.
There was unbridled joy in Kipchoge’s homeland as thousands of people celebrated on the streets.
In Nairobi, traffic stopped with people gathering in bars and anywhere with television screens as national hero Kipchoge closed in on completing the stunning achievement.