World marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge will have the support of a 41-strong team of pacesetters in his bid to break the two-hour barrier for the distance.
The Kenyan missed out on the elusive target by just 25 seconds in his first attempt in Monza two years ago.
Although the attempt will not stand as an official record because it is not in open competition and it uses rotating pacesetters, British Olympian Sebastian Coe, who heads the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), says it will still be an important milestone.
Nobody has ever run 26.2 miles quicker than him and quite possibly nobody ever will.
I’ve been trying for a decade and the fastest I’ve clocked is 3:22:43.
The Olympic champion and world record holder is perhaps the only person on earth capable of even thinking about it seriously, let alone trying to do it.
But on Saturday in Vienna, after six solid months of gruelling preparation, he will give it his all. He will be running around The Prater, Vienna’s famous park.
After the poor attendances at the World Championships in Doha over the past couple of weeks, athletics needs a boost, something inspirational and positive.
Step forward the softly-spoken Kenyan superstar.
I first met Eliud in Ol Pejeta in rural Kenya on 5 August 2018.
My training partner Liz Winton (if you’ve ever seen the runner in the rhino costume at the London Marathon, that’s her) and I had just finished our fifth marathon in five days and incredibly, Kipchoge had come down to present the medals.
We were utterly exhausted, but I’ll never forget the ripple of exhilaration at seeing arguably the greatest athlete ever standing there with medals for us.
He was training for the Berlin marathon and didn’t leave until every single runner had crossed the line and received their medal from him.
I struggled to put into words how much this meant to amateurs like us. Kipchoge turned to me and said: “My friend, no human is limited.”
A few weeks later we watched in awe on television as he won in Berlin in 2:01:39 and smashed a full minute and 18 seconds off the previous world record. (Another Kipchoge quote struck me that day as he cruised over the line, smiling: “The strongest thing is a peaceful mind”).
Now he’s going to try break two hours for the marathon.
It’s the holy grail of running and Kipchoge is pretty much the only person alive capable of doing it.
He tried before in Monza, northern Italy and recorded a time of 2:00:25. If he can find an extra second per mile, over 26.2 miles, he’ll be talked about forever.
Kipchoge’s superhuman marathon bid will be greatest show on Earth
It won’t be an official world record if he does it because he’ll be running with pace-makers who will drop in and drop out after running five kilometres at a time.
Put simply, nobody in the world can run at Kipchoge pace for too long.
The last time we met was in April at the running track in Oxford where Sir Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile all those years ago.
He had just won the London marathon for a fourth time and wanted to see where Bannister had made history.
It was a privilege watching Kipchoge breathe in the Oxford air and pose with the very stopwatch that had been used to time the legendary British runner.
Kipchoge is a voracious reader and a keen student of running history.
In between training sessions at his base near Eldoret in Kenya, he has prepared for Saturday’s race by reading a biography of Nelson Mandela, written by his grandson Ndaba Mandela.
It was Mandela who came out with the phrase “it is only impossible until it is done”. They are words that could have been written just for Eliud Kipchoge and his audacious bid for running immortality.
I’ll be at the finish line on Saturday in Vienna, ready to report on what happens. Forgive me if I borrow that “no human is limited” quote as he crosses the line.