‘Kipchoge: The Last Milestone’ Review: Skipping Ahead

Never cut the course at a marathon, but you could probably skip the first half-hour of “Kipchoge: The Last Milestone” without missing much. A tribute to the pathbreaking Kenyan runner Eliud Kipchoge, this documentary sets out to show how, in 2019, he became the first person in history to run a marathon distance in less than two hours.

The well-intentioned but bromide-laden first part of the film introduces us to Kipchoge the man, shown as a runner with a tireless work ethic, a contemplative attitude and a fundamental modesty. We hear about how he inspires colleagues and young athletes. There are so many slow-motion running clips, abrupt switches to black-and-white or scenes that appear staged for effect (e.g., as Kipchoge discusses how his mother instilled a sense of discipline, we see a woman awakening a boy for a morning routine) that you could cut the movie into Nike ads with minimal alteration. The director, Jake Scott, son of Ridley, has in fact made such commercials.

But the documentary’s pulse quickens when it turns its attention to Kipchoge’s efforts to beat the two-hour mark. His 1:59:40 doesn’t count as an official world record because he didn’t run it under traditional marathon strictures. The film illustrates how a wide array of collaborators optimized conditions. Various participants describe the road surfacing, how laser guidance helped set the pace and how teams of fellow runners took turns making Y formations around Kipchoge to reduce air resistance. The athleticism, physics and what one person calls the “bit of ballet” of the event are all stirring to witness.

Kipchoge: The Last Milestone
Rated PG-13 for … strenuous running? Running time: 1 hour 27 minutes. Rent or buy on Apple TV, Google Play and other streaming platforms and pay TV operators.

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