•While World Athletics banned the shoes from professional sport last year, Nike has launched a new version of its Alphafly footwear that complies with new rules introduced by the governing body.
“A date needs to be identified retrospectively, then everyone would respect times in the right context. Athletes deserve that.”—Hutchings
World Athletics should introduce a new set of records for times set by athletes wearing high-tech footwear, said British Olympian Tim Hutchings, as debate continues over whether the shoes give runners an unfair advantage.
Footwear developed by Nike played a role in two of the biggest distance-running achievements of 2019, with Eliud Kipchoge’s sub-two-hour marathon in Vienna and Brigid Kosgei’s record-breaking run at the Chicago Marathon bringing the Vaporfly shoes into the spotlight.
While World Athletics banned the shoes from professional sport last year, Nike has launched a new version of its Alphafly footwear that complies with new rules introduced by the governing body.
“People from many quarters are saying stop fussing about the shoes. Just move on and enjoy the racing. To which I’d respond, I’ve always enjoyed the racing and will continue to,” Hutchings told The Times
“But I want to enjoy and respect times as well, not just cast aside that element. A reset would enable this. The shoes are here to stay, sadly the genie is out of the bottle.”
Kenya’s Ruth Chepngetich shaved 29 seconds off the world half marathon record on Sunday and British triathlete Beth Potter is awaiting ratification of a world record time from a low-key 5km road race a day earlier. Both athletes wore high-tech footwear made by different manufacturers.
“Let folk race and record new era personal bests,” said Hutchings, who finished fourth in the 5,000m at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.
“A date needs to be identified retrospectively, then everyone would respect times in the right context. Athletes deserve that.”
Meanwhile, Welsh marathon runner Dewi Griffiths says advancements in running shoe technology are like being given "free time" in races.
The 29-year-old is hoping to qualify for Tokyo when he competes in the Olympic marathon trials in London on Friday.
The technology, which was pioneered by Nike, helped Eliud Kipchoge run a marathon in under two hours in 2019 - though a team of pacemakers meant it was not a recognised record.
World Athletics then clarified the technology that can be used in shoes, and several world records have since been broken in endurance races.
Critics argue the new technology gives runners an unfair advantage, while others have praised the developments.