Nike Alphafly
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Nike Alphafly marathon shoes cleared for competition; Eliud Kipchoge’s sub-2 shoes meet thickness standard

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Nike will release a version of its scrutinized, record-breaking marathon Vaporfly shoes — the “Alphafly” — at the end of this month. It will meet new legal standards to be used in competition such as the Olympics, according to the apparel giant.

On Wednesday, Nike announced that a new version of the Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% will be made available to the public and legally eligible to wear in official races.

World Athletics said last week that there is an immediate indefinite moratorium on any shoe that is thicker than 40 millimeters or contains more than one rigid embedded plate (of any material). World Athletics also ruled that any shoe used in competition, starting April 30, must have been available for purchase by any athlete on the open retail market for four months.

When Eliud Kipchoge became the first person to run a marathon in under two hours on Oct. 12 — in a non-sanctioned event — he wore a prototype of the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT%, unusually tall shoes. That specific pair is slightly thicker than 40mm, but since it’s a larger shoe size than the 8.5 used to determine the 40mm standard, it would still be legal to use in competition, assuming it met availability standards, according to Nike.

On Oct. 13, fellow Kenyan Brigid Kosgei won the Chicago Marathon in 2:14:04, shattering the 16-year-old women’s world record by 81 seconds. She wore a different Vaporfly version that remains legal, according to Nike.

“Where World Athletics has reason to believe that a type of shoe or specific technology may not be compliant with the rules or the spirit of the rules, it may submit the shoe or technology for study and may prohibit the use of the shoe or technology while it is under examination,” a release read.

World Athletics will establish a group to guide future research into shoe technology. It previously had vaguer rules regulating shoes.

“Any type of shoe used must be reasonably available to all in the spirit of the universality of athletics,” the old rules read. “Shoes must not be constructed so as to give athletes any unfair assistance or advantage.”

Days after Kipchoge and Kosgei’s breakthroughs, World Athletics (then known as the IAAF) commissioned a group to review shoe technologies.

“It is clear that some forms of technology would provide an athlete with assistance that runs contrary to the values of the sport,” a statement read in October. “The challenge for the IAAF is to find the right balance in the technical rules between encouraging the development and use of new technologies in athletics and the preservation of the fundamental characteristics of the sport: accessibility, universality and fairness.”

Kipchoge, speaking three weeks after his sub-two-hour marathon, defended the shoes.

“I respect technology. I respect innovation,” he said. “The world is moving, and you can’t stop. We are moving with the world, and the world is changing. I expect the [World Athletics] committee will be respecting the change in the world, the innovation, the technology.”

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MORE: Eliud Kipchoge on his marathon bucket list, shoe technology debate

Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly reported that Kipchoge’s shoes would be illegal for being greater than 40mm.

Joey Mantia extends U.S. medal streak at speed skating worlds; Dutch dominance returns

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Joey Mantia ensured the host U.S. finished with a medal at the world single distances championships. Ireen WüstKjeld Nuis and Jorrit Bergsma ensured the Netherlands finished atop the medal standings.

Mantia joined Shani Davis as the only U.S. men to earn individual medals at three different editions of the championships, taking bronze in the 1500m on the last day of the speed skating meet at the 2002 Olympic oval outside Salt Lake City.

Mantia won the mass start at the last two worlds in 2017 and 2019 (and finished fifth on Sunday, after the 1500m bronze).

Mantia clocked a personal best 1:42.16 in the fifth of 12 pairs of the 1500m. It held up until Nuis (1:41.66) and countryman Thomas Krol (1:41.73) in the last two pairs.

“Was starting to think that I’m so old that I can’t time trial anymore,” Mantia, a 34-year-old whose last 1500m personal best came in 2015, told media in Utah. “Maybe there’s a little bit of hope left.”

Mantia’s medal extended the U.S. streak of making the podium at every world championships this millennium — 16 straight. The single bronze is the smallest medal output since 2000.

Full results are here.

Wüst and Nuis gave the Dutch a sweep of the men’s and women’s 1500m titles, two years after they did the same at the PyeongChang Olympics. Bergsma, an Olympic and world 10,000m champion, earned his first global medal of any color — gold — in the 16-lap mass start.

The Netherlands failed to earn any golds on the first two days of the four-day competition. The dominant Dutch, who topped the medal standings at every Olympics and worlds dating to the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games, entered Sunday trailing Russia.

But Wüst began the day by clocking 1:50.92 to win the 1500m by .21 over Russian Yevgenia Lalenkova. American medal hope Brittany Bowe, the 2015 World champion who took bronze last year, finished 14th a day after taking eighth in her world-record 1000m distance.

Nuis and Krol went one-two in the men’s 1500m to tie Russia’s medal total. Then Irene Schouten took bronze in the women’s mass start to put the Netherlands ahead for good, followed by Bergsma’s capper.

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MORE: Shani Davis retires, takes new role in speed skating

Netherlands on the board; more world records at speed skating worlds

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It took four world records from other countries before the Netherlands won its first title in an Olympic program event at the world single distances speed skating championships.

Jutta Leerdam got the dominant skating nation on the board on the third day of the four-day competition and in the ninth Olympic program event. Leerdam scored an upset over defending champion and world-record holder Brittany Bowe, the American who ended up eighth.

Leerdam, 21, prevailed despite having zero World Cup podiums to her name. She clocked 1:11.84, just .23 slower than Bowe’s world record set on the same Utah Olympic Oval last year. Bowe, who recently had her yearlong win streak snapped in the 1000m, finished in 1:12.92.

“It’s a nightmare,” Bowe said, according to media on site.

Later, the Netherlands won the men’s team pursuit in a world record 3:34.68, the fifth world record in Olympic events the last two days on the world’s fastest ice at the 2002 Olympic oval outside Salt Lake City.

Full results are here.

The world championships conclude Sunday, highlighted by American Joey Mantia defending his world title in the mass start.

In other Saturday events, both the men’s 1000m and women’s 5000m world records fell. On Friday, world records were lowered in the men’s 10,000m and women’s team pursuit.

Pavel Kulizhnikov followed his Friday world 500m title with the 1000m crown, repeating his double gold from 2016. Kulizhnikov was one of the Russians banned from the PyeongChang Olympics after he served a prior doping ban.

On Saturday, Kulizhnikov clocked 1:05.69 to take .49 off Dutchman Kjeld Nuis‘ record from last March, also set at Salt Lake City. Nuis, the Olympic 1000m and 1500m champion, took silver, 1.03 seconds behind.

Russian Natalya Voronina and Czech Martina Sablikova both went under Sablikova’s world record in the 5000m. Voronina came out on top in 6:39.02, 2.99 seconds faster than Sablikova’s record from a year ago and 2.16 seconds faster than Sablikova on Saturday.

Voronina’s time would have been the men’s world record as recently as 1993. Sablikova won the previous 10 world titles in the event dating to 2007.

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MORE: World Single Distances Championships broadcast schedule