Local runners disagree with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF)’s rule to ban the Vaporfly sneakers

By Nicole Ganglani | Photo from Nike

On Oct. 13, we wrote about how Eliud Kipchoge became the first athlete to complete a marathon in under two hours. Then, fellow Kenyan runner Geoffrey Kamworor finished first (2:08:13) at the New York City Marathon for the second time in three years. These two achieved these milestones wearing Nike’s Vaporfly shoe—the same pair that’s facing a barrage of controversy today.

What Is It with the Vaporfly? 

As one of the many “enhanced” running shoes in the market today, Nike’s Vaporfly sneakers are specifically made for long-distance runners, thanks to its full-length carbon-fiber plate and responsive ZoomX midsole foam designed to improve speed by four percent. 

True enough, a study proved that runners who wore the Vaporfly helped them run faster and farther. This same study also found that Vaporfly runners have a 15 to 43 percent risk of experiencing muscle damage and inflammation.

As a result, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) is currently investigating the shoe’s technical aspects to determine whether the Vaporfly will still be allowed in future races given that the organization believes that no high-tech sneakers should give anyone any advantage in any race.

“I don’t think that the shoe is a factor. Provided that you are prepared, that you are training hard, you can run with any kind of shoe. So the shoe is not a disadvantage to other people” 

What Do Runners Have to Say?

Kamworor says that the Vaporfly shouldn’t really be an issue, echoing that it’s a matter of coming into the race with the right preparation. 

“I don’t think that the shoe is a factor. Provided that you are prepared, that you are training hard, you can run with any kind of shoe. So the shoe is not a disadvantage to other people.” 

Like Kamworor, some Filipino runners believe that the VaporFly should not be prohibited in races. In fact, these technologically advanced sneakers are a testament to how sports gear has evolved throughout the years. 

2018 Kyoto Marathon finisher Nimu Muallam says, “The shoe is just part of the strategy to improve your run. They’re not the biggest factor—it’s really about how you train. So if the trainings of Kipchoge and Kamworor were the same then the shoe shouldn’t be a factor. The energy-return feature of the shoe does little to a runner’s performance. For me, you choose a shoe because that’s what you’re most comfortable with. Nike should not be singled out if other brands are incorporating the same technology.”

“I think that the Nike Vaporfly shoes really do give athletes an advantage during races and events. However, these advantages are very small to the point that if you don’t train [enough], even if you wear these shoes, you still won’t benefit from it. Bottom line is that you need to train for something. These shoes are just add-ons to reach your goals”

La Salle Multisport triathlon team captain Vince Ang also believes that it’s the preparation that matters most at the end of the day—not the shoes.

“I think that the Nike Vaporfly shoes really do give athletes an advantage during races and events. However, these advantages are very small to the point that if you don’t train [enough], even if you wear these shoes, you still won’t benefit from it. Bottom line is that you need to train for something. These shoes are just add-ons to reach your goals,” says Ang. 

While Gabe Gueco, an amateur bodybuilder and runner, mentions that if the IAAF were to strictly implement a rule against the Vaporfly, they should look at other footwear, too.

“If we’re talking strictly about shoes—whether or not it gives athletes an ‘advantage’ then the federation will have to give the same attention to what the athlete is wearing head to toe.”

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest sports news and active lifestyle and fitness features you need