One step ahead? Nike’s Vaporfly shoes transform marathon games

To choose your favorite at this year’s Olympic marathon, look at the start line runner’s shoes.

Anyone wearing a Nike Vaporfly model may already be on a head start.

The shoes, introduced four years ago by the world’s largest sports apparel companies, are believed to help runners save time and run the distance. For some, progress is an exciting revolution. Others call it “technical doping” and risk running the marathon into shoe competition.

“Running is so easy, and people love it so much,” said Jeff Burns, a runner and doctoral candidate at the University of Michigan Kinematics.

The controversy has caused the sports operator, World Athletics, to issue the strictest shoe regulations decades before the Tokyo Olympics. But Vaporfly has escaped the ban, and debate continues.

Currently, Nike has new racing shoes with new rules added. TheAir Zoom Alphafly Next% was unveiled at a fancy fashion show in New York on Wednesday night. Kenya’s Eliud Kipchoge wore a shoe prototype when he ran the world’s first less than two-hour marathon in an informal race in October.

Kenya’s Bridget Kosgay was also in the shoe version last year when she set a world record for women in Chicago. Geoffrey Kamworor of Kenya wore a version of Vaporfly when he won the New York Marathon in November. All three men’s marathon medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics also knit a version of this shoe.

Vaporfly shoes have become a popular sight in marathons around the world so they are easy to find in neon green or pink shades.

Many marathoners are willing to pay a $ 250 price tag on the Nike website-sometimes even more-wondering how much credit they can personally get for improved results You.

Brian Lam, an amateur marathon athlete in Washington, DC, said he spent $ 400 on a StockX pair prior to the London Marathon last year because the version he wanted was sold out elsewhere. He ran the marathon at 2: 59.30, calling the result “insane” seven minutes earlier than the previous best. This has met his lifetime goal of participating in the Boston Marathon this year.

“I think thanks to all the training at the London Marathon, I think shoes have something to do with my performance,” Ram said. “When a person who can afford shoes has that kind of advantage, it is definitely not an equal playing field.”

What differentiates Vaporfly is a foam midsole that is lighter and less dense than other products, allowing for more cushioning without adding weight. Shoes also have carbon fiber plates that act like levers to reduce work on the ankle. Independent corporate-sponsored research has shown that this shoe gives runners a 4% advantage in energy efficiency.

Air Zoom Alphafly Next% adds two “air pods” to the sole for added cushioning. Both Vaporfly and Alphafly comply with the World Sport Code, which limits the thickness of the sole to no more than 40 millimeters. Alphafly will be available to Nike members from February 29. In other words, it satisfies the new rule that shoes must be sold on the open market by April 30 to be allowed in Tokyo Games.

About two years ago, Kyle Burns, assistant professor of athletic science at Grand Valley State University in Michigan, conducted a study comparing Vaporfly shoes with Nike’s Zoom Matumbo 3 (track spike) and Adidas Adizero Adios 3. Efficiency is improved by wearing a Vaporfly model.

The bottom line: Burns estimated that slipping on Vaporfly could trim a few minutes from professional time, for example, nearly 10 minutes in a 4-hour marathon.

“This is a form of technology doping,” says Barnes, who collaborated with Andrew Kilding, a professor of exercise physiology at Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand. “You are at a disadvantage, not in those shoes.… Everything is happening very quickly in the shoe industry today.”

World Athletics has sought a compromise in a recent decision and has shown that wearing a Vaporfly is not a misconduct. However, by tightening the rules, Monaco-based organizations have set a new era of vigilance.

The governing body said that a working group of experts was established to evaluate new shoes entering the market, with a grace period for certain shoe standards. Also banned shoes with sole thickness exceeding 40 mm or containing multiple plates.

Vaporfly’s controversy has led to many world records comparing the advantages that swimmers have gained in wearing the Speedo LZR Racer, a full-body compression suit that traps air for improved buoyancy and performance. The World Governing Body for Swimming later banned swimmers of all lengths.

However, according to Bruns, the minimum skills required for running are evolving only slowly. He said that the last major change took place in the 1960s and 70s when shoe makers developed EVA-based foam midsole and all-weather trucks began to replace cinder trucks.

Nike is also working on 100 meter high speed shoes. This is called the Nike Air Zoom Viper Fly and does not participate in the Olympics at this time because its design does not meet the new World Athletics Rules. Nike, according to those familiar with the discussion, is looking at ways to tailor shoes to meet regulations. Because the person was not disclosed, he spoke on the condition of anonymity of the ongoing process.

Other companies are pushing the limits of shoe technology.

Saucony has a carbon-plated shoe called Endorphin Pro. Marathoner Jared Ward wrote a blog post and felt that the shoes were “moving toward the rhythm of a half marathon.”

Translation: Fast.

Joyciline Jepkosgei won the Women’s Marathon in New York wearing an Adidas Adizero Pro prototype. Adidas did not release details on the technical design of the shoe.

Hoka One One recently announced Carbon X. This is called a “speed machine” made of carbon-plated cushioning, and achieves a “propulsive and responsive ride”.

“We are all sports fans,” said Colin Ingram, product director for Hokawanwan. “We have decided to go ahead as long as we can do that in our DNA (due to technology advances).”

At the moment, Nike seems to be leading the competition.

“I think it’s going to be at least three years late, so it will take a long time for the race results to be truly consistent in a competitive sense,” writes sports scientist Ross Tucker in an email. “We changed the athlete from 2:06 to 2:04. We decided the result. We changed the relationship between physiological input and performance output.”

Burns stated that a new era of advanced shoe technology could disrupt the general sponsorship model in running. In this model, the shoe company is generally the main sponsor of the athlete. Mr Burns said that more athletes may look across the shoe company if the contract requires them to wear shoes that are at a competitive disadvantage.

“If anyone takes the knife into a gunfight, it doesn’t look good for a knife sponsor,” Burns said.

American long distance runner Robert Tagroner has no shoe trades and trains on a variety of brands, including the Vaporfly version. She wore the model during a US Olympic marathon trial in Atlanta later this month.

“I’m not interested in science,” Groner said. “I just go for myself.”

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