What unfolded over two hours of pure sporting theatre in Vienna only lent credence to that, Kipchoge staying on pace through 41km, then cranking it up as he sprinted to the finish, waving to the crowds in celebration.
Local police estimated over 100,000 people had been in attendance and the atmosphere was raucous as Kipchoge was hoisted atop the shoulders of his pacemakers, amid a sea of joyous scenes.
“I had put it in my heart and mind that I could run under two hours and I wanted to send a message to the world that no human is limited,” he said. “The message is now in everybody’s mind, that if you put it in your heart and your mind and say it in your mouth, then it can be realised.”
In the post-race press conference, one British journalist asked Kipchoge why he appeared to be struggling at the halfway point when the half-smile, half-grimace that is usually his distress signal first appeared on his face. “It’s untrue,” Kipchoge said with a cheeky grin.
Back home in Kenya, tens of thousands had gathered in the streets to witness his historic feat on big screens, while almost a million people watched the finish on YouTube, with many more watching on TV channels around the world.
Kipchoge said he wanted to ‘rally the world, not only Kenyans’. Sport, he said, is ‘where you can unify the whole world’.
Later that night, the organisers hosted a huge party in Vienna for all those involved: athletes, agents, support staff and sponsors. While alcohol flowed and a few hundred people partied into the night, Kipchoge stayed sober and opted out early, returning to the hotel room to be with his wife and children.
He had joined the immortals, but that was a status this modest, mild-mannered Kenyan had earned long before he achieved the impossible. This, like everything that came before, wouldn’t change him.
“I’m a believer that if you climb to one branch,” he said, “then you reach for the next branch.”