A new running shoe, the sub 2 hour marathon and what happens when a shoe is thought to offer an unfair advantage.
Running shoe designers have been altering designs for years to give runners an edge legally. A shoe that improves ground resistance, reduces drag and improves the transference of force from the ground up is the holy grail of shoe design, especially when it comes to marathon times.
The sub 2 hour marathon has bee sought after by trainers and by running shoe companies, with Nike making waves with their shoe designs that were used in the 2016 Rio Olympic marathon. Addidas has also been known to design shoes that seem to offer faster times, since the last four world record times, topping out at 2 hours 2 minutes 57 seconds. Unlike Nike, Addidas has been more low key in their promotions of their marathon winning shoes.
Nike is introducing a new shoe, which was based on the design that was used during the Rio Olympics retailing for $250, called the Zoom Vaporfly. This May, they are hoping that this shoe can help them and the athletes they sponsor finish the race in under 2 hours.
While there is a lot of science behind the training that may help an athlete improve their running time, the quest for a shoe that can boost performance offers some ethical questions as discussed in a recent article in the NY Times.
Is it ethical to enhance running times artificially with a shoe? From an athletes point of view, they will do what is necessary to win and set a new world record. The question was raised a few years ago when Oscar Pistorius ran using a specialized running blade since he is a double amputee. The blades allowed him to run very fast, and the concern was that the blades added unnatural energy artificially helping him run faster.
If a certain shoe can offer an advantage, how much of an advantage is too much and what should be allowed by marathon governing bodies and how much is unethical.
Nike for sure will take advantage of this marketing opportunity, even if their runner sets a new world record over two hours, however, if their runner can do a sub 2 hour marathon, they are likely to make a fortune selling this new shoe.
Check out the discussion recently offered in the NY Times
Do Nike’s New Shoes Give Runners an Unfair Advantage?
By JERÉ LONGMAN MARCH 8, 2017
The shoes came in the colors of a tropical drink, lime and orange and pink, as if the logo ought to be an umbrella instead of a Nike swoosh. You half expected the insoles to smell of rum and coconut.
If the color scheme suggested frivolity, race results did not. The shoes cushioned the feet of all three medalists in the men’s marathon at the Rio Olympics last summer. Later, in the fall, they were worn by the winners of major marathons in Berlin, Chicago and New York.
The latest shoe designs have produced fast times and impressive results in international races. But they have also spurred yet another debate about the advance of technology and the gray area where innovation meets extremely vague rules about what is considered unfair performance enhancement for the feet.
Where to draw the line of permissible assistance?