Why banning Eliud Kipchoge’s Nike shoes helps sport run


World Athletics concluded that the new technology incorporated into the soles of road and crampon shoes provided a performance advantage.

Why is this called the democratization of the running shoe?

Shoe companies can no longer develop bespoke advanced shoes just for elite international athletes, without first launching them into the open retail market where anyone can buy them. From April 30, 2020, a new shoe must be on the market for four months before it can be used in competition. This amendment to the rule governing competitive footwear means that anyone (who can afford it) can buy and use the same shoe that an elite athlete wears, for example, at the Olympics or world championships. One of the biggest criticisms when Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya ran a less than 2 hour marathon in October was that the Nike Vaporfly shoes weren’t available on the mass market.

As of now, by the time the latest iteration hits stores, the shoe giants have reportedly already been developing the next version for elite athletes, which meant the vast majority of runners were behind the tech cycle. But under the new rules, if a shoe is not available on the market four months before it is first used in a competition, it will be considered a prototype, meaning it cannot be used at championships or competitions. races.

Will the sole be refined? Yes it will be.

The most striking feature of Kipchoge’s Nike pair was the thickness of the sole, made of patented foam. The new rules, however, hit the very sole of the shoe. They specify that the maximum thickness should not exceed 40 millimeters. In the case of crampons used by sprinters, it is limited to 30 millimeters.

What about carbon fiber plates in shoes?

They can be used, but with restrictions. The sole of the shoe must not contain more than one rigid plate or blade of carbon fiber or any other similar material that helps reduce runner fatigue or gives any other advantage, the new rules state. The single rigid plate can be placed in more than one area of ​​the shoe, but must be in the same plane and located sequentially, the internal World Athletics task force that reviewed the shoe’s technology has ruled. When it comes to sprint shoes, an additional plate is allowed but its sole purpose is to attach crampons.

Which company is the most affected?

World Athletics did not name any specific brand when it released amended rules for competitive footwear. Still, it’s clear that the strides made by Nike and the partly negative publicity around Kipchoge breaking through the two-hour barrier in Vienna in a controlled environment (he had a team of dedicated pacemakers and was the only competitor) all wearing Nike forced World Athletics to revisit shoe technology.

The day after Kipchoge’s feat, on October 13, Kenyan Brigid Kosgei broke the women’s marathon record at 16. She also wore a shoe from the Vaporfly series. The shoe was introduced in 2016 and the five fastest marathons have been won by those who wear them. Japanese brand Ascis German brand Adidas is among those that have also made significant strides in making runners more efficient, but Nike has clearly established itself as the favorite. In a recent relay marathon in Japan, 84% of runners used Nike. The next day, Asics’ share price fell 3.8%. Shares of Mizuno, another Japanese giant, fell 0.9%. When word broke of World Athletics’ intention to change the rules, the stock prices of rivals Nike soared.

Will there be any other rule changes?

World Athletics will continue to conduct research on footwear technology, according to a statement released Friday. An expert working group to guide future research on footwear technology and to assess new footwear emerging in the market will be strengthened. This group will report to the Competitions Commission and ultimately to the World Athletics Council. World Athletics said it was open to an “ongoing dialogue” with shoe manufacturers on the changed rules and their impact as well as the broader issue of how to balance shoe technology and preserve the integrity of the sport.

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About Marie A. Gingrich

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