Controversial running shoes developed by Nike to enable the first-ever marathon under two hours could be declared illegal in the coming months, with World Athletics set to introduce a rule that limits the thickness of the midsole of ‘a shoe.
n October, Eliud Kipchoge ran a 1:59:40 marathon in Vienna – a time ineligible for record purposes due to the use of rotary pacemakers – but the prototype shoes he wore sparked a lot of controversy.
The Kenyan accomplished his feat by wearing the Nike alphaFLY, the latest evolution of his Vaporfly series first seen at the highest level in 2016. Nike did not respond to questions about the prototype worn by Kipchoge in Vienna, but the company-filed patents show that the alphaFLY contains three plates in its midsole sandwiched between layers of foam and forefoot cushioning pods.
The shoe is set to go on general sale at the end of the spring marathon season, with an industry insider telling the Irish Independent that it provides almost double the running economy than editions. previous ones.
The current rule states that running shoes must not be designed “to give athletes an unfair assist or advantage” and must be “reasonably available to all”, but due to Nike’s heavily patented design, many believe that this is not the case with the Vaporfly.
The World Athletics Technical Committee has studied the shoe since its general release in 2017 and a task force it commissioned consisting of two former athletes alongside experts in science, ethics, footwear, biomechanics and law is said to have drafted a rule which will limit the allowed thickness. of the midsole of a shoe. The rule is expected to come into force in 2020.