These Games began with an emerging rivalry: Ledecky versus Titmus.
The finale will involve a long-standing grudge match: Eliud Kipchoge versus The Clock.
It’s impossible to beat time, but the famous Kenyan has landed a few blows over the past decade.
In 2018, he set a new marathon world record of 2:01:39 in Berlin.
A few weeks later organisers of the Chicago marathon had fun setting up an enormous treadmill (the ‘tumbleator!’) as a challenge for normal people to keep up with Kipchoge’s racing speed of 21 kilometres per hour.
Plenty had a go, lasted a while. In the end, it seemed the easiest thing to do was fall over and get spat out the back.
Try doing a Kipchoge this weekend.
Without a tumbeator, you can race a friend doing a steady bicycle speed.
Or you can simply start striding, almost sprinting – that’s the speed – and see how long you last.
You’ll know it’s time to stop the experiment when you’re staggering.
Kipchoge keeps going at that clip for precisely as long as it’s takes to watch Star Wars — A New Hope.
Soon, he’ll star in his own film.
There’s one coming out on August 24 called Kipchoge — The Last Milestone, directed by Jake Scott, son of Sir Ridley (who directed Gladiator and Blade Runner).
The story is about the runner’s successful effort to run a sub-two hour marathon (1:59:40) in Vienna two years ago.
It was not an official world record under IAAF rules because the Kenyan used a car and other runners to pace him, although it was acknowledged by Guinness World Records.
The Tokyo Olympics marathon is more important to Kipchoge.
He wants to become the third man to win back-to-back Olympic marathon titles; a gold medal would feel more like a crown for the 36-year-old.
Kipchoge first competed in the Olympics in Athens 2004, winning bronze in 5,000 metres. Four years later he won silver in the same event in Beijing.
He missed Kenyan selection in London 2012 and turned his efforts to half marathons the same year.
In 2013, he competed in his first 42 kilometre race in Hamburg, winning in a new course record time of 2:05:30.
By Rio 2016 he was the undisputed gold medal favourite and finished atop the podium.
Since then, he’s been up against The Clock.
There are other rivals in Tokyo, including countryman Lawrence Cherono.
All competitors will be up against The Heat.
Organisers mapped out a course in Sapporo, Hokkaido, in the hope it might be cooler on the country’s northern island, but there is no avoiding the oppressive weather.
The Kenyans will not be worried. Kenya’s Peres Jepchirchir and Brigid Kosgei won gold and silver in the women’s race this morning.
“I have completed my training and I am really excited to race in Sapporo,” Kipchoge said.
“In Japan, I will defend my title from Rio, to win a second Olympic medal in the marathon would mean the world to me.”