Breaking2 was about more than a marathon—it was about attempting to break the sub-two-hour barrier in a way that would capture the imagination of people around the world.
As Nike co-founder and legendary track coach Bill Bowerman once said, “The real purpose of running isn’t to win a race; it’s to test the limits of the human heart.”
Ultimately, the core of Breaking2 was about more than a marathon—it was about attempting to break the sub-two-hour barrier in a way that would capture the imagination of people around the world.
Attempting to break the sub-two-hour marathon challenges the perception of what is possible in sport, resets the expectations of product and enables Nike to gather incredible athlete insights. These lessons can be applied across everything Nike does—including products and services—to ultimately serve all runners.
On May 6 at 5:45 a.m. in Monza, Italy, Eliud Kipchoge, Zersenay Tadese, and Lelisa Desisa attempted to break the two-hour marathon barrier. Kipchoge came the closest, finishing with a time of 2:00:25.
Behind the scenes, teams broadcasted the live attempt from Italy, filming, editing, and customizing the broadcast for social platforms, while a team in San Francisco worked to optimize distribution, engagement, and viewership. While these teams helped the live stream become the most social live running event in history, a separate group captured the final chapter for a one-hour documentary special on the full journey produced by National Geographic Studios as part of a co-production partnership with Nike.
Overall, the near-flawless live execution and deep dive into the experience inspired millions of viewers and brought the full journey of Breaking2 to life through timely and relevant distribution.
The final attempt was held on a closed-course auto racing track to better control the elements. With virtually no crowd to witness the marathon, the drama of the predawn attempt was conveyed online to live audiences and later through an hour-long documentary. More than 19.8 million views (live and cached) of the attempt were recorded. Furthermore, the athletes’ epic journeys—from being invited to join the team to going through tests in wind tunnels and sports labs, and their day-to-day lives in eastern Africa, right through crossing the finish line—were chronicled in Breaking2, a one-hour documentary special produced by National Geographic Studios as part of a co-production partnership with Nike. And learnings in the form of products have helped propel dozens more athletes to top finishes in marathons around the world.