© Copyright – 2021 – Athletics Illustrated

World Athletics has changed the maximum allowable height for track spikes down to 20mm from the previous 25mm.

The purpose is to keep innovation in check and to create a more even playing field.

The maximum allowed height for a road shoe is 40mm.

Manufacturers have until November 1, 2024, to make the necessary adjustments, in time for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

There has been a great increase in the rate of personal bests, national, area, event, and world records since the advent of the super shoe and super spikes.

Times and records will always march forward, however, over the previous two years, the record books have been re-written.

For example, until the 2019 Chicago Marathon, where Brigid Kosgei ran 2:14:04 to break Paula Radcliffe’s world record of 2:15:25, Radcliffe’s record was considered an outlier performance, it lasted for 16 years. The same can be said about Kenenisa Bekele and his 5000m and 10,000m world records that stood for 16 and 15 years, respectively until Joshua Cheptegei broke both of them in 2020.

Jacob Kiplimo broke the world half-marathon record in Nov. 2021, clocking 57:31. In that Dec. 6, 2020 race in Valencia, five runners recorded times under 58:00. Until that moment the world record was 58:01.

Letesenbet Gidey now owns the 5000m and 10,000m world records that she set in 2020 and 2021 respectively. She ran the 10,000m in 29:01.03. Almaz Ayana broke the world record during the 2016 Rio Olympic Games with her 29:17.45 performance. She had taken out the long-suspected performance of Junxia Wang who was with the group called Ma’s Army in China. She admitted that the group was doped and Ma Junren was caught. Ayana had run 29:31.78. She improved the record by an off-the-charts 14 seconds. Ayana had responded to accusations of doping with, “My God is my doping.”

Gidey’s performance is another 16 seconds faster.

The women’s half-marathon is down to 62:52. Gidey set that record at the 2021 Valencia Half Marathon. That is a 1:59 improvement in four years. And it is a 52-second improvement in three months and an 18-second world record improvement of four months earlier.

Keep in mind, the above records advancements are of world records, Olympic, area, national, and event records have increased at a higher rate.

The super shoes have taken the conversation away from doping, something that is apparently much more difficult to police. The running community is split in its opinion that super shoes are part of the progression of the sport, like better bicycle technology in cycling or implements in field events versus those who consider super shoes to be shoe doping.

When Athletics Illustrated interviewed the scientist, Wouter Hoogkamer, Ph.D, who first studied the Vaporfly 4% by Nike, he is the one who gave the shoe the 2 to 6 per cent improvement rating with an average of 4 per cent. Hence, the name Vaporfly 4%. Hoogkamer said that there is a difference between types of runners who benefit more from the same shoe in the same event. Therefore, currently it is an uneven playing field. The next study will reveal who benefits and why.