MAINSTREAM media and broadsheet newspapers went into a frenzy last week reporting that Nike’s ZoomX Vaporfly Next% shoe was set to be banned by World Athletics.
Ultimately these reports were largely based on speculation and although WA says an inquiry is taking place, no such findings have yet been revealed.
If a shoe or shoes were likely to be banned, it would probably only take effect on models going forward and the likelihood of records or race wins being retrospectively erased or even “asterisked” is unlikely.
So, why the controversy? Since Eliud Kipchoge’s Breaking2
attempt in Monza in 2017, the world of footwear has been in a spin. Nike, the masters of marketing and creators of undoubtedly great footwear, launched a mainstream shoe on the back of the attempt, based on the prototype model that Kipchoge himself wore on the motor racing circuit.
The shoe – the Nike Vaporfly 4% – was so named after research suggested it effectively offers a 4% improvement in efficiency for a marathon runner. It was a great success and runners bought them in their droves.
The shoe was made up of a combination of a carbon fibre plate and revolutionary foam (see panel). But this wasn’t the first time carbon fibre had been used in a shoe. Paul Tergat’s marathon world record of 2:04:55 in Berlin in 2003 was set in the Fila Racer, a shoe with a carbon plate to provide a little extra spring.
The Nike shoe was then updated in early 2019 to the current model, the ZoomX Vaporfly Next%, which was given this name because it took things on a level, offering more of the ZoomX foam cushioning to provide even greater benefits.
By this time, though, other brands had begun to release their own models: HOKA One One releasing the Carbon X at an event in Sacramento resulting in a 50km world record from Jim Walmsley.
When Kipchoge eventually broke the two-hour barrier at the INEOS 1:59 Challenge in Vienna last year, again the focus was firmly fixed on his shoe, which was the new and yet-to-be-released ‘Alphafly’.
This prototype model included a multi-layered carbon fibre plate system and even more of the ZoomX foam, measuring around 50mm thick.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
WHEN looking for a trail or off-road running shoe, it’s often all about the grip. However, given that no two paths are the same, careful consideration is required. What’s the terrain like where you’ll wear the shoes the most? If you’ll be negotiating soft, wet and muddy conditions then look for deeper lugs. For tackling gravel tracks and forest trails then more evenly spaced lugs will work better. When it comes to cushioning, consider how hard the ground will be; if it’s soft then you’ll be fine in low-profile shoes, but on those firmer tracks reasonable cushioning will be called for.
WHEN it comes to ‘over-pronation’, a common question is ‘how much is over?’. With no hard and fast rules, it’s best to choose a shoe that instinctively feels right. Gait analysis can often assist in helping you make this choice and your specialist running store is always a good place to start if in doubt. To help you make that choice, here’s a selection of some of the best ‘support’ shoes around.
Need for speed
THE racing shoe segment of the market is becoming somewhat split. This is partially due to the rise of carbon-plated footwear but also the fact that many shoes are becoming much lighter. Here we take a look at some of the leading contenders to toe the line in.
You'd have had to have been running on a different planet to miss all the recent debate about carbon-plated shoes. The talk of bans and performance enhancement has been so widespread that even non-runners are asking their running friends about the potentially magical footwear.
Tributes for Lindsay Dunn
BRENDAN FOSTER, CHARLIE SPEDDING AND OTHERS SAY FAREWELL TO ONE OF BRITAIN’S MOST PROLIFIC AND ADMIRED ENDURANCE COACHES
TRAVEL TO THE CAYMAN ISLANDS IN DECEMBER FOR A RACECATION LIKE NO OTHER
Tokyo Olympics are postponed
2020 GAMES AND PARALYMPICS ARE NOW SET TO TAKE PLACE NEXT YEAR
Switching your focus
FIVE-TIME OLYMPIAN JO PAVEY TELLS EUAN CRUMLEY WHY IT IS IMPORTANT TO FIND YOUR ADAPTABILITY IN TIMES OF UNCERTAINTY
KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON TRAINING
IN LIGHT OF THE CORONAVIRUS, MATT LONG ENCOURAGES YOU TO IMPROVISE IN THE FACE OF ADVERSITY WHILE JOHN SHEPHERD PROVIDES SOME FURTHER THOUGHTS AND PRACTICAL SUGGESTIONS
In my genes
OUR SERIES ON OLYMPIANS AND THEIR OFFSPRING CONTINUES WITH TRIPLE JUMPERTURNED-CHEF FRANCIS AGYEPONG AND HIS DAUGHTER CASSIOPEIA
It's a V. It's a Baa. It's a Swoosh
From the prosaic to the poetic, economists vie to define the shape of the recovery
YOUR MUSCLES DESERVE BETTER THAN YOUR RATTY OLD WORKOUT GEAR. DECK YOURSELF OUT IN THE RIGHT DUDS AND YOU’LL UPGRADE BOTH YOUR PERFORMANCE AND YOUR STYLE.
Nothing But The Hits – Darien Birks Pivots From Nike
The stylistic, pop illustrations of Darien Birks had us hooked before we even learned of his many influential years as art director at Nike.
Can Nike's Anti-Racism Ads Just Do It in Japan?
Its social justice playbook worked in the U.S. but may not translate to a less diverse nation
PB Picks: Mother's Day
Give Mom (or yourself ) a spa-like experience at home with Soon Skincare!
Arts & Crafts
VIRGIL ABLOH did it again, creating yet another masterpiece with Jordan Brand.
Virus Impact: Automakers Look At Restarting China Operations
Automakers are considering whether to resume operations in China amid efforts to contain a virus outbreak, but the impact is spreading for many other companies.
TRACK BODY SEES RISK IN SHOES TECH BUT CLEARS NIKE DESIGN
World Athletics cleared distance runners to keep wearing a favored Nike design even though it acknowledged shoe technology poses a risk to the sport.
A NEIGHBORHOOD FOURSQUARE
Despite good bones, the house built in 1900“was in very poor condition,” says Aaron Pempel, who’d long wanted to restore a rundown house. “The first floor had been used as commercial office space without a kitchen or bath; the second floor was residential.”Indeed, the interior was a forlorn mash-up, made worse by the building sitting vacant. The Nike executive had discovered the abandoned house in the same Northwest Portland (Oregon) neighborhood where he and his wife, Kristen, and their son live.
Nike Calls Off Pilot Program With Amazon Ending Direct Sales
Nike is ending a sales partnership with Amazon less than a month after the athletic gear company named an e-commerce veteran as its new chief executive.