But there was simply nothing left as he finished 26 seconds down.
Eliud Kipchoge strolls into the press room, flashes a wink here and there, and looks as fresh as ever.
Kipchoge was taking part in a Nike event at Monza, where three athletes, with the help of pacers, tried to become the first athlete in history to run the 26.2 miles in under 120 minutes.
Kipchoge clocked 2:00:25, the fastest a human has ever run by 2:32.
Kipchoge needed an average of 2:50 per kilometre - an improvement of around 2.5 per cent on Kimetto's record.
AFP | Reigning Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge from Kenya narrowly failed in his attempt to complete the distance under the mythical two-hour mark on Saturday, finishing in a time of 2hr 00min 24sec.
But Kipchoge did beat the previous marathon record of 2:02:57, set by Dennis Kimetto of Kenya on September 28, 2014 at the Berlin Marathon.
But Kipchoge said: "This is history".
Slicing roughly three minutes off the marathon world record requires a ideal alignment of human physiology, state-of-the-art equipment and flawless conditions.
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The Kenyan added: "We are going up the tree, I have lifted a branch and I am going onto the next one". He is the reigning Olympic gold medalist in the men's marathon with his personal best time of 2:03:05 set at the London Marathon just previous year.
Dennis Kimetto of Kenya crosses the finish line at the Berlin Marathon in 2014, setting the world record at 2:02:57. The two-hour mark thus stood three minutes faster than that; the last time a marathon competitor had broken a record by more than three minutes was in the 1950s.
Called Breaking2, Nike worked for two years to prepare for Saturday's race, investing time and money into research related to shoes, training, nutrition, recovery, and other elements of long-distance running. "That message is really special to me".
It wasn't a road race, with runners completing 17.5 laps around the 1.5-mile Monza Formula One track.
"I hope next time, I can get it under the two-hour mark", Kipchoge said following his run. This was more of an experiment, as Nike scientists controlled the environment, pacing strategy, and hydration.
"I've seen the magic of gold shoes and swift suits".
"I think pushing the boundaries of human performance is just fascinating for all of us, there's no question about that", he said.
Having gone much closer to breaking the two-hour barrier that many sports commentators had expected - indeed Nike's own promo for #Breaking2 had described the feat "impossible" - the temptation would be for the brand to repeat the spectacle and try go one better next time.
"We also know that the product we're delivering to athletes on race day is specifically tuned to them, one-to-one, and we're eking out even more performance benefits and we're pushing that percentage even further for each individual athlete".