Oct 18, 2019

Nike's magic running shoes ignite debate

The Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next%. Screenshot: Nike.com

Last weekend, Eliud Kipchoge became the first human to run a marathon in under 2 hours and Brigid Kosgei shattered the women's marathon record.

Why it matters: "It appears that running, the original and most elemental of sports, now faces the same tradition vs. scientific innovation challenge that other sports have encountered," writes NYT's Amby Burfoot.

  • "Think: tennis rackets, baseball bats and, perhaps most similar, competition swimwear — those polyurethane-based suits that were banned starting in 2010."

Key detail: They were both wearing a pair of Nike shoes called the "Vaporfly," which have proven controversial because of the performance boost they seem to provide.

  • In the last 13 months alone, male runners have recorded the 5 fastest marathon times ever — all while wearing a version of the "Vaporfly."
  • Why they're better: They have a carbon fiber plate embedded in the midsole, which acts as a spring and provides more energy return.

Driving the news: After receiving numerous complaints from runners who believe the shoes provide an unfair advantage, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has put together a team to "consider the issues."

The bottom line: The outcome of this debate will affect everything from stock prices (Nike and their competitors) to who wins the marathon at the 2020 Olympics.

  • P.S. ... Speaking of the 2020 marathon, the IOC announced on Wednesday that it will be held in Sapporo, rather than Tokyo, due to heat concerns.

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5:30 p.m. ET: 5,375,648 — Total deaths: 343,721 — Total recoveries — 2,149,412Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 5:30 p.m. ET: 1,639,872 — Total deaths: 97,599 — Total recoveries: 361,239 — Total tested: 13,784,786Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

White House announces new coronavirus travel restrictions on Brazil

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro with Trump, March 19, 2019. Photo: Jim Lo Scalzo-Pool via Getty Images

The White House announced that beginning at 11:59 pm ET on Thursday, President Trump would suspend entry of non-U.S. citizens who have been in Brazil in the past 14 days in an effort to stop the imported spread of the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Brazil has reported nearly 350,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus — the second-most in the world behind the U.S. — and has emerged as a Southern Hemisphere hotspot as other heavily affected countries in Asia and Europe have managed to get their outbreaks under control.

Trumpworld's plan to brand Biden

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images, Mandel Ngan/AFP

Trump's advisers relish the contrast between his public appearances and Joe Biden's lack thereof. The former vice president, following the guidance of public experts, has eschewed public events and stayed home for months now. Trump, meanwhile, is out and about — masks be damned.

What we're hearing: Watch for plenty more mask-free outings from Trump, hyping the reopening of the economy and avoiding discussions of social distancing and death counts.