How will the first man to run a sub two-hour marathon in a normal race feel, I wonder? Will they be glad that Eliud Kipchoge, with a little help from his friends. broke that landmark time? Or will they feel strangely robbed? Will their moment of foot-racing history become, effectively, a footnote?
And will we in fact have to wait for a lot, lot longer, until the time when someone beats the 34-year-old Kenyan’s effort of 1 hour 59min 40.2sec in a ratifiable race, before any celebrations can avoid being muted by comparison?
It may even turn out that Kipchoge’s superhuman effort in Vienna on Saturday (October 12) plays as a factor when that mark is officially broken - which it surely will be.
As Kipchoge said at the weekend: "I believe no human is limited."
That may or may not be true. Certainly, if all humans are unlimited, he is more unlimited than others.
I’ll be honest. Before watching the efforts made in Vienna on Saturday via a YouTube live stream - along with 750,000 others - I didn’t want the two-hour mark to be broken.
I felt the same way before the May 2017 event when Kipchoge attempted to run a sub-two-hour marathon in similarly assisted circumstances as part of Nike’s "Breaking2 Project" at the Monza racing circuit and clocked 2:00:25 - just 26 seconds short of his quest.
But I can’t deny that I was willing him home over those final kilometres, having seen the way some of the world’s best runners had worked with such unvarying concentration to help him achieve his target, and marvelling once again at the quietly masterful figure in white padding along at the centre of it all.
For sure, and quite rightly, Kipchoge and those pacers will receive financial recognition of their efforts. I’m willing to wager that in some cases we may be talking in excess of $100.
But you felt this went beyond money, and that all involved had invested themselves in it. And when you saw the normally impassive face of Kipchoge, by all accounts a truly honourable man, breaking with childlike glee while his final crew of seven pacers, discarded over the last 500 metres like the final stage of a rocket, jumped and danced behind him - how could you gainsay that moment?
What also made a profound difference - and what may even have helped in the attempt – was the voluble crowd that lined the looped route through Vienna’s Prater Park, in some cases climbing the plentiful horse chestnut trees to gain a better view, and making it impossible for the runners to communicate without shouting.
As one saw soon afterwards, densely packed crowds had been following the effort back in Kipchoge’s native Eldoret, and reacted to his success with joy.
This was a global event, A human triumph. And a triumph of marketing.
When Barack Obama is praising you on social media, you know you’ve done something right.
The former United States President’s tweet also took in the second seismic marathon event of the weekend - the women’s world record of 2:14:04sec set by Kipchoge’s compatriot Brigid Kosgei at the Chicago Marathon.
In the wake of Kipchoge’s monumental achievement 24 hours earlier, one feared that this most venerable of races - run annually since 1905 - would suffer by comparison.
Kosgei’s effort in bettering the record of 2:15:25 that had stood to Britain’s Paula Radcliffe since April 2003 ensured, happily, that such fears would prove groundless. It was the perfect day to set a ratifiable world marathon record.
Perhaps her effort had gained in the manner that the Chicago Marathon race director Carey Pinkowski had forecast on Saturday.
"It sets a mindset for the athletes; they start thinking about fast and going faster, so maybe we’ll see some of that influencing them tomorrow," Pinkowski told reporters.
"These one-off events, you know, it’s a moment in time…I can’t criticize the effort - they have perfect conditions and perfect pace and everything came together."
That said, however, there is still ambivalence about the fact that this was a commercial opportunity, for the company that manufactured the shoes, for the petro-chemical company that spent a reported £15 million ($19 million/€17 million) - a drop in its corporate ocean - to enable this effort, notwithstanding that it was outstandingly arranged and executed.
The comparisons that were made before the INEOS 1:59 Challenge likening the effort to putting the first man on the moon were instructive. You can’t get to the moon without a vast technological framework.
But someone can, and eventually will, run the marathon in less than two hours without interchanging groups of aerodynamically placed pacers and drinks and gels constantly on hand, and a lead car beaming down a green laser grid as a time guide, and with other runners trying to beat them.
And when that happens, their achievement will not resound as it might have done had Saturday’s effort not taken place.
Ultimately, for all its manifest virtues and attractions, it still felt like the forcing of something that would occur naturally - a commercial Caesarean.