Kenyan marathoner Eliud Kipchoge broke down one of sport’s great barriers on Saturday when he ran the marathon in less than two hours.
It was a stunning achievement, a feat of humanity that had for a long time seemed if not impossible then many, many decades away.
The effort required a lot of detailed planning, from the perfectly flat course to the favourable weather, and Kipchoge ran behind a well-orchestrated band of pacesetters swapping in and out of position to keep him on track.
The fact that it was both pace-set and out-of-competition meant it was not an official world record.
But what has been a little controversial are the shoes that he wore during the marathin.
Kipchoge rocked a Nike Vaporfly trainers – called AlphaFLY – a major innovation in the sport which has seen performances sharply improve. Here we take a look at exactly what all the fuss is about.
They are a running shoe made by Nike that supposedly brings significant improvement to performance.
Embedded in their thick foamy sole is a curved carbon-fibre plate which Nike research says give an improved metabolic efficiency of 4 per cent.
As controversy looms Kenyanbulletin.com has learnt that they are legal, and have been used to great effect over the past 12 months or so.
Kipchoge broke the marathon world record wearing them while Abraham Kiptum broke the half-marathon world record too.
In many ways there is no problem. Technological advances are a part of sport and always have been, and after all, Kipchoge’s legs are still doing the running.
But few innovations have such an instant impact on a sport as the Vaporfly has had on long distance running.
Improved performance hasn’t been incremental over decades but near instant, and it has brought into question whether a sporting ethical line has been crossed.
Independent studies agree with Nike’s conclusion that they bring a significant advantage over a competitor wearing ‘normal’ shoes.
What’s more, Kipchoge’s shoes were a bespoke design especially for him and his 1.59 challenge, so he may have had even more of an advantage than the original 4 per cent claim.
Since the Vaporfly 4% edition, Nike have realised a ZoomX Vaporfly Next% version which is supposed to be even better.