These Superfast runners are causing quite a stir in this year’s NYC marathon. These Nike Vaporfly sneakers are sparking a heated debate over whether the hyper-advanced footwear are giving some runners an unfair advantage.
What makes this sneaker so special? Nike first introduced the Vaporfly 4% in 2016 and these shoes contained a new midsole foam called Pebax, which is so lightweight that it’s almost like running barefoot. Pebax delivers 30% more energy return then other foams used in most running shoes. This lightweight feature allows Pebax to function like leg muscles would, but without the fatigue. This can debilitate a runner’s legs after 20 miles of running. These Nike runners also include a carbon fiber plate in the midsole which may increase energy return or improve foot function while running. This plate is prominently mentioned in Nike’s exclusive patent application.
The International Association of Athletics (IAAF) will establish whether the shoes were fair and will be reporting back before the end of the year. The association has said in a statement that “The challenge is striking a balance between spurring development of “new technologies ” while preserving “the fundamental characteristics of the sport”. The IAAF rules state “shoes must be constructed so as to give athletes any unfair assistance or advantage and also that any shoe must be reasonably available to all.
Stay tuned as this sneaker debate continues.