Thoughts from Ross at the Science of Sport
So having suggested an increase in the frequency of short “thought crossed my mind” posts the other day, this is a longer one(!), on the Nike Vaporfly Elite shoe that will be worn in Nike’s Breaking 2 attempt (and which has been worn by numerous runners before, too).
The article originated with an email exchange I had with someone who knows the shoe, and who got me thinking about the concepts, which I’ve expanded on over the last couple of weeks. Basically, I think there are two historical cases in play: The Pistorius advantage, which draws a direct line to this, and the Speedo LZR Racer swimsuit and subsequent suits, which illustrate a couple of conceptual issues.
To sum my position up, I think the addition of any device that purports to act as a spring (and the Vaporfly Elite clearly has this) should be banned for the credibility of performances both now and into the future. Here are my (amended) thoughts in response to the email discussion
Question on your shoe take: nearly every top end track spike has carbon fiber or some similar element to stiffen the shoe and has for some time. Should these be banned as well? What about spikes with plastic structures?
The carbon fiber plate is getting a lot of attention, but my understanding is that the real “spring” quality comes from the foam. The plate is more for smoothness of foot transfer (a la track spikes).
I’m not trying to ask ‘gotcha’ questions but rather flesh out your stance.