Andrew Tran
Perspectives Editor

Photo Caption: Nike’s ZoomX Vaporfly Credit: https://hypebeast.com/2020/2/nike-zoomx-vaporfly-sneaker-iaaf-tokyo-olympics-decision-rules-permit

When people think of purchasing running shoes, they usually think of Nike as one of their top choices especially in selecting shoes especially for long distances. More recently, marathon runners have taken a keen interest in Nike’s newest running shoe, the ZoomX Vaporfly. The shoes has thrusted into the spotlight due to the accomplishments of two runners: Eluid Kipchoge and Brigid Kosgei. Eluid Kipchoge recently ran the Vienna Marathon on October 12th, 2019 and he finished the race under 2 hours which is a monumental moment in marathon running history. Kosgei ran the Chicago Marathon and she broke the women’s world record by 81 seconds on October 13th, 2019.

These key events coincide with the discussion of whether Nike’s shoes influence an athlete’s performance. Usually, the shoes do not factor at all since they served as aesthetics. However, Nike’s ZoomX Vaporfly has proven to be very bouncy and comfortable for runners. The runners who the foam compounds found in the ZoomX allow a runner to use less energy to maintain the same pace, thus allowing you to run faster over the course of the race. It basically feels like running on springs and runners do not tire as easily wearing these shoes as oppose to the other competitors. This has caused quite the controversy for world athletics as the organizations discuss whether these shoes should be banned or not. The IAAF has permitted that these shoes can be used in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics that are coming up in about a couple months. Even the shoes provide an unfair advantage to athletes who use them, the World Athletics inserted two requirements that Nike must abide by before the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. First, all prototypes of the shoe cannot be used during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and the shoe has to be made available for all competitors to purchase as of April 30, 2020.

As a runner, I usually grab any pair of running shoes that I can find in my house and hastily put them on as I prepare to go out for a warm run. However, Nike’s Vaporflys have completely changed the nature and integrity of running. No longer do runners wear shoes for the aesthetics. Today, shoes can have an influence on the performance of regular runners and elite athletes. This has placed me at odds with Nike because they actually made a shoe that helps people run faster. Bear in mind, they created the Vaporflys to help break the 2-hour marathon record unofficially set by Eluid Kipchoge in 2019. At this point, technology has finally reached a point where it now affects the oldest sport known from Greek history which is marathon running. Some people see the Vaporflys as flat out cheating similar to doping. While the shoes do influence performance, it is a piece of equipment that all athletes need to wear in order to run. I would have personally banned the shoes from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. However, we will have to see what happens after these shoes make their official competition debut.