Celebrating Cutting Edge Sport – INEOS 1:59 Challenge

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As category partners of the Sport Industry Group Cutting Edge Sport award, PT SportSuite CEO Rich Cheary celebrates those companies who embraced innovation to make the shortlist – this week … INEOS 1:59 Challenge.

Like millions of sports fans around the world, I sat captivated in front of my TV on 12 October 2019, to watch Kenyan superstar Eliud Kipchoge go where no man or woman had gone before.

Kipchoge was attempting to become the first runner in history to achieve the “impossible”, run a sub two-hour marathon – and by achieving it, he gave the world a sporting moment to rival any in history.

Like Roger Bannister before him, the first man to break the four-minute mile, Kipchoge’s effort will go down as an historic moment in running folklore. It was a truly mind-boggling run: 42.195km in 1hr, 59min, 40sec; that’s 2.50min per km!

But unlike Bannister, who had trained comparatively little to create his piece of history, Kipchoge’s run was an achievement made possible by the collective, as well as a healthy dose of hard work and innovation. Many experts across the INEOS sports group came together as part of this INEOS 1:59 Challenge. Course optimisation, innovative new pacemaking formations, vehicle speed control, weather analysis … this was an achievement built on detail and a single-minded drive to make sure Kipchoge was one of the most prepared athletes in history.

Kipchoge’s run was an achievement made possible by the collective, as well as a healthy dose of hard work and innovation

When I try to contextualise this achievement there are two things that strike me. Firstly, Kipchoge’s run reaffirms my belief that there is no victory in isolation, and that success is very often the result of true partnership and collaboration.

Secondly, sport’s true power lies in its ability to connect with the struggles, dreams and ambitions of all of us. For just under two hours, Kipchoge was representing every road warrior, track athlete, trail junkie, or novice runner, who struggles every day simply to put their running shoes on and walk out the front door.

Without the fan, sport has no context. The Covid-19 crisis has categorically proven this as we face the prospect of seeing sport played out in front of empty stadiums.

Speaking at a Sport Industry Spotlight session, performance scientist Robby Ketchell, a key member of the INEOS 1:59 Challenge team, says it best: “It’s important to always consider the impact sports performance has on the fans, because if you don’t have the fans then you don’t have the sport.

“It’s important to always consider the impact sports performance has on the fans, because if you don’t have the fans then you don’t have the sport” – Robby Ketchell, INEOS 1:59 performance scientist

“That’s really what drove me during the 1:59 – the inspiration and the passion behind that and the message that ‘No Human is Limited’. People get behind that because they always have their own obstacles they have to overcome.”

We’re guided by this philosophy at PT SportSuite every day as we endeavour to place the fan at the centre of our thinking; by building digital products and platforms that allow sports organisations to capture the fans’ experiences, their sporting passions, their struggles, their triumphs – and then rewarding them for it.

Congratulations to team principal Sir Dave Brailsford and the rest of the INEOS 1:59 Challenge team. Your nomination is well deserved as you truly proved that “no human is limited”.

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