On October 12, an event that will be remembered in the athletic world for decades to come, finally happened. At 35 years old, Eliud Kipchoge ran a sub-two-hour marathon and became the first person ever to do so. However, this is not the only record that has recently been broken in the long distance running event. Less than a day after the two hour benchmark was beaten in Vienna, Brigid Kosgei, another Kenyan marathon runner, broke the women’s world record at the Chicago Marathon with an outstanding time of 2:14:04. This was one minute and 24 seconds less than the previous world record that had been standing for 16 years. In addition, earlier this year Kosgei became the youngest woman to ever win the London Marathon at the age of 25.
Kipchoge’s record has caused much controversy in the athletic community. The marathon was scheduled on the basis of trying to make the most perfect running conditions, taking things such as temperature and moisture into account. Also, Kipchoge was led by a team of about 40 alternating pace setters that formed a v-formation in front of him in order to block the wind and make it easier for him to keep a constant record-setting pace. The final element, which many consider to have given him an unfair advantage, is the pair of Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% shoes that Kipchoge wore for the race. The New York Times reported that in the last 13 months, male runners wearing these shoes had exceptional times. The shoes have a higher midsole, as well as the installation of a carbon fiber plate in the midsole in order enhance foot function while running.
As a result of all these factors, the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) has decided not to count the time as an official record. Furthermore, they will be making a decision about the use of these shoes in future competitions.
This is not the first time that specific sportswear has been banned. Buoyant polyurethane swimsuits, before being banned by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), made swimmers continuosly break records.
When asked on whether or not technological advances such as the shoes used by Kipchoge should be allowed in competitions, Leah Goodman, a cross country captain and senior at Berkeley High School (BHS) said, “In my opinion, the IAAF should regulate footwear, because we should differentiate between what the human body is capable of achieving and what human ingenuity is capable of inventing.”