Technology vs. Athletics - Runner's Bag
We live times of glory for the oldest and oldest of all sports, magical times where Asphalt tests are reporting results never thought by lovers of this sport. Every weekend a marathon, a half marathon, or a 10-kilometer route is celebrated and every weekend, almost without exception, the results of the winners, sometimes almost second-row athletes among the great world fondistas, run rivers of ink
Without going any further, this past weekend Brigid Kosgei, the young Kenyan who debuted in the Filipides test in 2014 in Porto with a mark of 2: 47.59 and that until last year had never dropped from 2:20 in the distance, broke the marathon world record in the women's category with a stratospheric mark of 2:14:04. The statements of the 24-year-old Keniana left even more amazed attendees after the test:
“2:10 is possible if the ideal conditions exist”
Kosgei had to see a lot of strength after crossing the finish line to become so resounding, between that high and the feat of his compatriot Eliud Kipchoge the day before in Vienna where he became the first man capable of running the distance of 42 kilometers and 195 meters below two hours, make this past weekend a very difficult date to forget, for the brands, for their protagonists and for their shoes ...
VaporFly and AlphaFly, the "others" protagonists
It is to think that when an athlete achieves a world-wide deed the protagonist is him. At the end of the day, athletics, except in the relay events, is an individual sport, each one gives the best of himself and seeks his best version, success, merit, usually of the individual; however this weekend the name of Eliud or Brigid competed in popularity with the surnames VaporFly and AlphaFly, members of the Oregon-based sports firm, NIKE.
At this point there is not a person from the world of athletics who does not know these two new prototypes, both great protagonists of the latest sports events on the road and who are giving so much talk.
But, in case a clueless one still sounds like Chinese to the names of the new models to compete with the American firm, we will go back to 2016.
At that time, the sports firm announced with hype and saucer an attempt, unofficial, to make the human being able to run the marathon below two hours: How? Many people asked, those responsible for the event soon answered.
Monza, the origin of the “magic” shoes
They selected three subjects, Kipchoge, Desisa and Tadesse, three world-class athletes who underwent different tests to see where they could improve their physiological abilities. They chose a circuit whose characteristics were the most conducive so that it did not subtract an iota of performance: Monza.
They studied aerodynamics to the point of concluding that athletes should always be protected to protect them from the wind and wear as little as possible, hares that would always come and go to help athletes in arrow formation and a car with a screen that in addition to protecting them from the wind it would set the pace with a laser that would be projected on the ground.
Mobile supplies, every 2.5 kilometers with a calculated amount of hydrates for each of the protagonists to avoid glycogen depletion and achieve optimum performance at high intensities.
And finally, the best in sports technology, compression garments and shoes that according to the promoters of the event would achieve a saving 4% of the career economy, something unusual, the greater the savings, the greater the performance, especially the longer the test.
For many skeptics, that attempt to break the 2-hour barrier was nothing more than a great marketing action aimed at capturing future buyers shoes that promised to be magical and achieve the insurmountable.
That race held on May 6, 2017 in Monza ended with Eliud Kipchoge crossing the finish line at a 2:00:25 mark, staying 25 ”to achieve a feat unthinkable to date. From that moment, all speculations: Doping, the car, the hares, few thought that these VaporFly 4% were the true causes of such deed.
The magic shoes arrived on the market and the rest of the athletes and the tests arrived in the autumn route after the stratospheric mark of Kipchoge in Monza, the Kenyan ran the marathon of the German Capital with omens of world record. His victory, although incontestable, left him far from the goal and he finished the test with a time of 2:03:32. ”
However, soon the vast majority of road tests begin to be won by athletes who wear the magical shoes.
Hatching of the "magic" shoes
Mosinet Geremew, an athlete who had run in Berlin with Kipchoge, wins months later in January 2018 in the Dubai Marathon with 2:04:00, improving his mark by more than 2´.
In a test where among the first 10, 8 fit the same shoe.
But autumn came and with it a new edition of the Berlin marathon. The VaporFly 4% evolves and takes out a new prototype, the VaporFly Next. Kipchoge is the one chosen for its world premiere and blows up the bench, crosses the finish line at the Brandenburg Gate at 2:01:39. lowering the global record in more than 1 minute.
The shoe reaches the public and athletes again, and everyone starts to see if it is as magical as they have.
In London, at the beginning of this year 2019 Kipchoge prevails again, in which it is its fourth Victory in the London route, it does so by wearing the Next as well as the second and third classified, all of them below 2:03 : 20, the superiority of the athletes wearing this shoe is such that there are cases of athletes from other firms that start using them in a camouflaged way, or who give up their sponsors to be able to buy them and use them individually.
The revolution begins and does not remain alone on the asphalt, in the last World Cup in Doha you could see prototypes of nails that incorporate the technology of the carbon fiber plate and the reactive foam used by these shoes.
Those affected begin to cry out to the sky and ask the IAAF to take action on the matter and investigate if the shoes conform to the regulations, such is the pressure that the agency announces that it will analyze the use of these shoes to see if they have to take measures and it should be remembered that the regulations indicate in its article 132.2 of the competition regulations that “athletes may wear shoes and that their use will be to give them protection, stability and adhesion but they cannot be constructed in such a way that they give athletes unfair help or advantage for the rest of the competitors "
If the VaporFly 4% or the VaporFly Next contribute to the athlete who uses them an improvement of their career economy, as studies on them seem to indicate, The shoes are not in accordance with the regulations.
And in the midst of all this stir comes Eliud and announces, after winning in London that he will try again to get off the 2 hours in Marathon. Under a project called INEOS 1:59 funded by tycoon Jim Ratcliffe, the richest man in the United Kingdom and who is estimated to have a fortune of 30,000 million Euros and who seeks to associate his company name with this commercial strategy to the great sports events, Kipchoge has a second chance to make history in sports and again thanks to his sports firm and an improvement in his shoes, the latest evolution that has just arrived: the Alphafly.
A new shoe away from the most common models used by road athletes on the road, which continues with the aesthetics of their predecessors and that unlike them incorporates, in addition to the foam and carbon plate mid-sole cameras facing each other to achieve an immediate rebound effect, the closest thing to a dock, so that we all understand each other.
The result of the challenge is in the ears and eyes of everyone, Eliud ran in 1:59:40 and with a feeling of being able to give more, to stop, his stroke, his stride and the subsequent celebration in which he was not he saw not one iota of fatigue after running 42 kilometers at a speed of 21km / h (2:50 ”a thousand) they were the reflection that the man was cooler than a lettuce, in those later images of the celebration it could also be seen in the Kipchoge tread running only that bouncing effect of the shoe, almost as if he were catapulting it.
Are they as magical as they seem?
Anyone who puts them on will run at devilish rhythms without getting tired? Of course not, and they ask Mo Farah that in Chicago he could only run in 2:09:45 with the same shoe that the winner wore.
It is clear that technology is shifting athletics to the background and the noblest of sports is more like Formula 1 where it seems that the technology and improvements of the cars are worth more than the hands and expertise of the drivers and shows a button:
Kipchoge and Kosgei have made history in the marathon, however they talk more about their shoes than themselves.
The competent bodies have work, the multinational Nike a reef and the competitive sports firms a hard task to avoid the "escape" of their main assets: athletes.