IAAF to Investigate Nike's ZoomX Vaporfly Following Multiple Broken Records

Professional runners claim the shoes provide an unfair advantage.

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Footwear
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Nike unveiled its ZoomX Vaporfly earlier this year with an accompanying marketing campaign that called the shoe “a racing shoe that breaks records.” As it turns out, the campaign may not just be a marketing ploy after all. Professional runners are actually breaking records in the shoes quite frequently, which has sparked a controversial debate amongst the running community.

The Vaporfly range originally made headlines for its inclusion of a full-length carbon fiber plate embedded in its foam midsole, which was put in place to increase propulsion. The more recent ZoomX Vaporfly Next% kept the carbon fiber plate in place, as well as added a more breathable material, extra foam, redesigned track pattern and a foam pod for Achilles support. The pair retails for around $250 USD.

According to The Times, since the Vaporfly’s initial launch back in 2016, “Dennis Kimetto’s 2014 world record of 2:2:57 has been bettered on five occasions, each time by an athlete wearing the shoe.” In addition, Eliud Kipchoge wore a special prototype of the Vaporfly when he became the first person to run a sub-two-hour marathon, and so did Brigid Kosgei when she broke the women’s world record the next day. “Normally I don’t like to fall for marketing stuff,” performance coach for professional runners Steve Magness told The Washington Post, “but if you look at the research and data, the shoes seem to have a big effect.”

As a result, many professional athletes have reportedly complained to the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) and the Athletics Integrity Unit in hopes that the organizations will examine the shoes to determine if they are providing runners with an unfair advantage. The IAAF recently issued a statement to The Times acknowledging the issue. “Recent advances in technology mean that the concept of ‘assistance’ to athletes… has been the subject of much debate in the athletics world,” said the statement. “The IAAF has established a working group to consider the issues.”

Elsewhere in footwear news, Pharrell Williams has a potential adidas 4D runner on the way.

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