Unfair advantage

The Nike ZoomX Vaporfly was unveiled earlier this year. Accompanied by a marketing campaign that labelled the shoe “a racing shoe that breaks records.” Now either, that is a happy coincidence for Nike or some unbelievable foresight, but it turns out they might have been onto something. As professional runners are actually breaking records in the shoes quite frequently. Raising eyebrows and posing questions in the running community.

Since the Vaporfly initially launched its first variation back in 2016. Dennis Kimetto’s 2014 World Record Marathon time of 2:2:57 has been bettered on five occasions. Each time by an athlete wearing the shoe. While perhaps the most impressive feat achieved in a pair of Nike ZoomX Vaporfly came in Vienna in 2019 when Kenyan Marathon runner Eliud Kipchoge ran the first Sub2 hour Marathon. Recording a time of 1:59:40, consistently running an average of 2 minutes 50 seconds per Kilometre. While female runner Brigid Kosgei broke the women’s world record for a Marathon the next day in a pair of Nike ZoomX Vaporfly.

Data speaks for itself

The Vaporfly range originally made headlines when it debuted, due to the inclusion of a full-length carbon fibre plate embedded in its foam midsole. What was gained by its inclusion was increased propulsion with every step. The more recent ZoomX Vaporfly kept the carbon fibre plate in place As well as added a more breathable material, extra foam, redesigned track pattern and a foam pod for Achilles support.

“Normally I don’t like to fall for marketing stuff, but if you look at the research and data, the shoes seem to have a big effect.”

Steve Magness professional running coach

The Nike ZoomX Vaporfly has been so widely successful for those who choose to wear it that is has begun to come under a massive amount of scrutiny. So much so that many professional athletes have reportedly complained to the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) and the Athletics Integrity Unit in hopes that the organisations will examine the shoes to determine if they are providing runners with an unfair advantage.

“Recent advances in technology mean that the concept of ‘assistance’ to athletes… has been the subject of much debate in the athletics world. The IAAF has established a working group to consider the issues.”


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