Elite runners may be banned from wearing Nike’s Vaporfly 4% shoes in races later this year.
The Nike Vaporfly 4% uses a combination of advanced foams and a carbon fiber plate to rebound as much as 4% of the energy from one running stride into the next. According to a test administered by the New York Times, a runner wearing a publicly available version of the Vaporfly 4% ran 4% to 5% faster than a runner wearing a typical running shoe. Kenyan runner Eliud Kipchoge wore the Vaporfly 4% when he broke the two-hour marathon for the first time last October. Then Brigid Kosgei wore the same version to crush the women’s marathon record the very next day.
And now, according to the London Times, the Vaporfly 4% will be banned by World Athletics later this year, the international governing body that determines the gear runners can wear in global competition. A report by the Guardian casts skepticism on this claim, however, citing sources disputing that a full-out ban will happen. Instead, according to the Guardian‘s reporting, certain limits will likely be placed on carbon plate technologies moving forward in an announcement coming at the end of January.
The International Olympic Committee did confirm with Co.Design that the “rules and regulations” of running are the jurisdiction of World Athletics. In other words, if Vaporfly 4% were to be banned by World Athletics, these shoes could not be worn in future Olympic Games. So this decision is of consequence for track athletes and global sporting fans alike.
Why its hot
Nike has always marketed its shoes as things that make you better at running and jumping. And it always seemed like questionable marketing and the shoes didn’t actually do anything. But these shoes really do something. For the average runner, it probably doesn’t make much difference at this price point ($250), but for elite runners it’s a big deal.