The One-Hour Documentary Special, in Partnership With Nike, Chronicles the Legendary Journey That Redefined the Limits of Human Potential

After a year of scientifically advanced training, three of the world’s most elite distance runners set out to do the incredible, fueled by Nike — to break the two-hour marathon barrier. More than 19 million spectators worldwide watched as the runners, driven by their unrelenting determination and backed by cutting-edge science and product innovation, circled the Monza circuit in Italy. In the climactic finish, 32-year-old Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge came within only 25 seconds of breaking the elusive two-hour mark.

The one-hour documentary special Breaking2 will run commercial-free during its premiere on National Geographic on Wednesday, Sept. 20, at 8/7c and will be available across National Geographic digital platforms the following day. Digital platforms include YouTube (available in 31 languages), Facebook,, EST, TVE and VOD.

Featuring breathtaking cinematography, the film chronicles the journey of three world-class runners and their teams as they tried to accomplish the unthinkable. Breaking2 uncovers the power of human potential and explores the emotional journey that bonded these three superathletes together as they gave their all to try to make the impossible possible. From testing in wind tunnels and running labs in the United States to balancing training with their day-to-day lives in eastern Africa to the final heart-pounding race in Italy, we followed these pioneers on their global trek to break the two-hour barrier.

Meet the runners:

Eliud Kipchoge: This 32-year-old Kenyan carries himself with unerring confidence and is always relaxed, at ease and in complete control.

Lelisa Desisa: A cool 27-year-old Ethiopian, Desisa skyrocketed onto the scene in 2010 with incredibly fast times, and has won the Boston Marathon twice.

Zersenay Tadese: From Eritrea, 35-year-old Tadese holds the world record for the fastest half-marathon run ever.

The determined athletes met with a team of leading sports scientists for more than a year of testing, training analysis, product innovation design and development and customized race day planning. Dr. Brad Wilkins, director of the Nike Explore team in the Nike Sport Research Lab, led the team of scientists, whose work drove this attempt. Wilkins and his team looked for any and all ways to optimize the runners’ performance, from conducting endurance tests to crunching lab data and identifying the optimal race strategy. Also key to the science behind the endeavor was Dr. Brett Kirby. As an expert on human bioenergetics, Kirby conducts pioneering research that unlocks better performance for every athlete. His formula for measuring and enhancing a runner’s velocity, running economy, hydration ability and oxygen consumption is the basis for the science behind this world-changing attempt.

Breaking2 culminates in just missing the two-hour barrier, but by the slimmest of margins. As told through these exceptional athletes, this is the story of how “not making it” is one of the most heroic and amazing athletic feats of all time.


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