Ababel Yeshaneh sets half marathon world record with controversial Nike shoes

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RAS AL KHAIMAH, United Arab Emirates — Ababel Yeshaneh set a world record for the women’s half marathon on Friday in the latest breakthrough by athletes wearing high-tech Nike shoes.

The Ethiopian runner won the Ras Al Khaimah half-marathon in 1 hour, 4 minutes, 31 seconds, beating the previous record set by Joyciline Jepkosgei in Valencia in 2017 by 20 seconds.

“I did not imagine this result,” Yeshaneh said.

Marathon world record holder Brigid Kosgei also beat Jepkosgei’s time by finishing second to Yeshaneh.

Since 2018, the men’s and women’s marathon and half marathon records have all been broken by athletes wearing Nike shoes. The Vaporfly range uses thick foam soles and a carbon plate to allow athletes to use their energy more efficiently.

The shoes have raised fears that athletes sponsored by other companies will have no chance of competing in key races, such as the upcoming Olympics.

World Athletics allowed athletes to continue using Nike Vaporfly-style shoes last month, even though it warned that rapid advances in shoe technology threaten “the integrity of the sport”. The shoes meet new World Athletics rules on sole thickness and the requirement to be available to any athlete.

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