by Richard Chin
Thousands of runners will hit the roads of Minneapolis and St. Paul in the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon on Oct. 7, an ordeal that takes the vast majority of citizen athletes three, four or five hours to complete. Until recently, the idea that a human could run 26.2 miles in less than two hours was inconceivable. But back in 1991, one guy said it was theoretically possible. At the time, Michael Joyner, a former college runner with a medical degree, a residency at the Mayo Clinic and an interest in the limits of human endurance, wrote a paper suggesting that a man with the ideal physiological traits could break the two-hour marathon barrier by more than two minutes. That would be nearly nine minutes faster than the marathon record in 1991. “People thought this was nuts and it took a while to get the paper published,” Joyner would later write. Recent events have shown that Joyner, now on faculty at the Mayo Clinic, wasn’t so crazy. The official marathon record now is 2:02:57, but in May 2017, a project called Breaking2 staged by Nike saw Kenyan runner Eliud Kipchoge finish the distance in 2:00:25 with the aid of a closed track, specialized pacers and custom shoes. The once impossible two-hour marathon barrier no longer seems so far-fetched.
Reach: The Star Tribune Sunday circulation is 518,745 copies and weekday circulation is 300,277. The Star Tribune is the state’s largest newspaper and ranks 16th nationally in circulation.
Context: Michael Joyner, M.D., is a Mayo Clinic anesthesiologist. Dr. Joyner's research team is interested in how humans respond to various forms of physical and mental stress during activities such as exercise, hypoxia, standing up and blood loss.
Contact: Rhoda Fukushima Madson