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Another world record broken by runner wearing disputed Nike shoes

Ababel Yeshaneh crossing the finish line, arms raised.
Ababel Yeshaneh breaks the half marathon world record with a time of 1:04:31 on Feb. 21 in the United Arab Emirates.
(Giuseppe Cacace / AFP via Getty Images)

Yet another world record has fallen to a distance runner wearing Nike’s controversial, high-tech shoes.

Ababel Yeshaneh of Ethiopia ran a half-marathon in the United Arab Emirates in 1:04:31 on Friday, besting the previous mark by 20 seconds.

“I didn’t imagine this result,” she said.

Yeshaneh appeared to be wearing a version of the Nike Vaporfly shoe, which features unusually thick foam and carbon in its sole, a technological advancement aimed at making runners more efficient.

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Over the last two years, elite-level competitors wearing some form of the Vaporfly have broken the records for the men’s and women’s marathon and half-marathon.

Track officials are banning high-tech shoes that some elite runners wear, particularly the specialized Nike prototype that was used during a race last fall.

Amid calls for legislation, the international track federation has stopped short of banning the shoes but did issue new parameters last month.

World Athletics officials set technical limitations related to the sole. Concerned that Nike-sponsored athletes will have an unfair advantage, they also ruled that shoes must be available to anyone on the retail market for four months before they become legal.

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“It is not our job to regulate the entire sports shoe market, but it is our duty to preserve the integrity of elite competition by ensuring that the shoes worn by elite athletes in competition do not offer any unfair assistance or advantage,” Sebastian Coe, the federation president, said in January. “I believe these new rules strike the right balance by offering certainty to athletes and manufacturers as they prepare for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.”


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