Nike has recently announced that a trial called Breaking2 will try and break the barrier of running a marathon, 42.2 km, in sub 2 hours. WOW! But is it a reality or just a marketing gimmick?
Can it be done?
According to a team at University of Colorado Boulder, a sub 2 hour marathon is possible! The current world record in a marathon is by a Kenyan, Dennis Kimetto, with a time of 2:02:57 at Berlin marathon in 2014. But there are lot of ifs and buts to it.
Firstly, the shoe has to be lighter by roughly 100 grams(about the weight of a deck of cards) than the shoe worn by Dennis Kimetto which weighed 230 grams. The scientist said that 130 grams shoe will shave off 57 seconds off the marathon time.
Secondly, a record-breaking runner would be running the first 13 miles of the race as a loop course behind a pack of pacers. He would draft behind them on a route that blocks the wind like a paved loop through a pine forest. This drafting will improve the running economy by 2.7 percent.
Thirdly, second half of the race should be slightly downhill but still within the regulations of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), with the drafting still going on. This could reduce the metabolic cost of the drafting runners by about 5.9 percent, shaving about three minutes off the current world record. Alternatively, the same result can be achieved if they have a strong tailwind at 13 mph.
Many are curious whether the 2 hour barrier can be broken or not. The scientist of all over the world are trying to figure it out. Nike also started an initiative called the Breaking2 to unlock the potential. Three elite marathon runners have been identified for this challenge and they are Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya, Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia and Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea.
As per the website of Nike, the Breaking2 team includes world-class experts across biomechanics, coaching, design, engineering, materials development, nutrition and sports psychology and physiology. So they designed a shoe as per these 3 runners called the Nike Zoom Vaporfly Elite with Nike ZoomX midsole. It has been made to get more out of each stride of these runners.
They have made this shoe much more lighter, softer and more responsive. As per the website, the shoe has been designed to give runners more energy return while simultaneously providing cushioning from the road. Some features include 21 mm forefoot stack height(for more energy return), ultra resilient Nike ZoomX midsole and unidirectional carbon fibre plate(don’t what that means), heel modeled for ultimate aerodynamics and a 9mm offset to minimize Achilles strain.
Nike Zoom Vaporfly Elite has only been made for the 3 runners. However, for the general public Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4%, Nike Zoom Fly and Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 34 are being released in June 2017. I presume they will be quite heavy for the pocket!
Now the controversy!
Nike’s sub 2 hour shoe – a reality or fake? Now there are two sides of each issue. On one side, people are welcoming the initiative of breaking the sub 2 hour barrier and the other side, people are criticizing it by saying that it’s just a marketing gimmick of selling shoes and would be an unethical way of breaking the sub 2 hour mark.
I believe that till the time the shoes doesn’t have wheels, then it’s okay to give a try with this shoe. However, pacing the runners with changing the pacers regularly and creating conditions like a wind tunnel maybe stretching it too far. However, it will be interesting to watch whether even with these advantages for the runner, is it possible to achieve the unthinkable.
When Sir Roger Bannister ran the first four-minute mile, he didn’t just break a record; he redefined what athletes were capable of and inspired confidence in others to do the same. Then thereafter, everybody seemed to be doing sub 4 minute mile. I hope if these runners can break the sub 2 hour barrier, they may inspire others to do the same.
One thing I am sure of and that is the human body can do anything it wants, when the mind is in sync. It can be pushed to any degree of difficulty, if the mind is tricked into doing that.
So, if Nike makes some extra sale on the launch of these 3 shoes, then I think they deserve it because they achieved something which everyone has only dreamed of and that is breaking the magic sub 2 hour marathon.
Till then stay fit and keep running
What do you think about this whole issue? Reality or fake?
Do you approve of bending the rules?