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What Do We Learn From the INEOS 1:59 Challenge?

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On Monday, 6 May 2019, Eliud Kipchoge announced to the world that he would challenge himself to race the marathon within less than two hours. It will be his second attempt after the first attempt in Monza city in Italy that he completed for 2 hours and 25 seconds. Furthermore, he said, “I want to unlock that thought that there are limitations in the human being,” and added, “There are no barriers when you believe in yourself and try and trust in what you are doing.” The sponsorship was dubbed as INEOS 1:59 –NO Human is Limited and sponsored by INEOS founder and chair, Sir Jim Ratcliffe.

By Saturday, 12 October 2019, the challenge was organized in Vienna and the world witnessed the World and Olympic marathon holder Eliud Kipchoge crossed the line to beat the challenge by recording a 1:59:40. During this sub-two hour 42-kilometer challenge, Eliud consistently completed each kilometer in approximately 2 minutes and 50 seconds. Upon finishing the challenge, after the challenge Kipchoge said, “I am feeling good. It has taken 65 years for a human to make history in the sport. After Roger Bannister, it took another 65 years. I am happy to be the man to run under two hours. No human is limited…’’

A closer look at the INEOS 1:59 Challenge 2019 event, it revealed numerous sponsors and major marketing campaigns. As for sponsoring, through the pretext of corporate social responsibility, major capitalist companies both locally an internationally came out with lucrative deals for the event. NIKE sponsored Eliud’s shoes, INEOS sponsored the whole event, Safaricom gave free bundles for YouTube live streaming and so forth. It was evident that the capitalist companies were there to exploit the event for their own good otherwise these same companies usually are not always seen in matters of social responsibilities activities that have no material benefits such as the Likoni ferry tragedy that occurred on September 2019 in Kenya!

As for marketing campaign, the run was publicized and broadcasted live across the world and tens of thousands of spectators attended to watch it live hence making it one of the world blockbuster sporting events. Indeed, this has been another example elaborating of how powerful the media houses of today are. Many among the people had no interest nor aware of such a sporting event. However, with the power of media, the whole world was taken over. They used slogans such as, ‘Who sets the limit anyway? A race with the clock, Kipchoge’s sub-two hour marathon like landing on the moon, the Historic run,’ the media and corporate world were able to trigger speculations and amusement hence increasing sales as well as marketing their brands. For sure, the corporate world capitalized the event and enriched their pockets while the masses remained poor without even realizing.

As for the theme of the event that ‘Human has no Limit’. It is a false theme since it is well known that when man looks at himself, he shall determine he is a created being and thus full of limitations otherwise if he had no limits he would have created himself; yet this is not true. The fact that the challenge was set to 1:59 and Eliud Kipchoge managed to obtain 1.59.40 in itself proves that he is limited and so are the rest of the humans. Man has be challenged to strive hard and while doing so it is only said that he is in a challenge of determining his limitations.

Abu Laila