Last week, a human being, for the first time ever, ran the 26.2 mile marathon in under two hours. Doing the math, that means you have to run every mile, on average, roughly four minutes and thirty-five seconds.
Every. Single. Mile.
That’s crazy. Incredible accomplishment. Only one problem, actually I have two problems with it: Eliud Kipchoge, the new record holder, had eight pace runners help him get the record and he wore a new high-tech running shoe.
Let’s start with pacers - I think it’s a form of cheating in running races. With pacers, you’re artificially being helped to produce a faster time, drafting off of others who have no desire to win the race. How can that be a sport. There are no competitors, no strategy, no reason to watch the race.
There is not a sport in the world where there are no competitors. Yes, you compete against the clock in many sports, but you always compete against other competitors and the one who gets that best time or lowest/highest score wins.
Think about it - if it’s one guy or gal competing against a clock, then it’s not a sport, it’s a game show from the 70s called Beat the Clock.
I hate to do it but I’m pulling out the dictionary card.
Here’s the definition of sports: an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.
Notice the “...competes against another or others...”.
Now about those running shoes. Nike created a shoe which features a curved carbon fibre plate and a thick layer of ultralight and resilient foam. The first generation was called the Vaporfly.
Rumour has it that the newest version will be called the Alphafly and it’s what Kipchoge was wearing. It has some odd looking pods on the sole under the forefoot and they say it has more carbon fibres than the old Vaporfly. The shoe is supposed to give the runner a 5% boost, which should shave at least a few minutes off their time.
Just like with golf and the technical improvements in clubs and balls, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the movement to improve running shoes not for comfort or safety but to make one faster is big business - runners want to run faster.
I’m probably stuck in the Disney make believe world of the purity of running, the purity of sports. I should know better.
History has shown us that whether it’s been doping of athletes or technical improvements in all sporting equipment, the desire to win has always usurped the love of the sport itself.