Shoe tech lands runner in trouble

VIENNA • Ethiopia's Derara Hurisa won the Vienna City marathon on Sunday but was disqualified soon after when the soles of his shoes were found to be one centimetre too thick in violation of the rules.

He crossed the line in 2hr 9min 22sec but less than 45 minutes later, was left distraught when his time was struck off as his shoe soles were found to be 5cm thick.

In January last year, World Athletics, the governing body of track and field, prohibited any running shoe with a sole thicker than 4cm or that contains more than one plate from competitions. The banned models can still be used for training and by athletes not considered elite.

Elite runners' gear is typically checked by officials a day or more before a race. Hurisa had worn a different set of shoes to the ones he had mentioned on his entry form.

Race coordinator Hannes Langer said: "We stressed in the technical meeting the rules about the shoes. Unfortunately, we had no other choice than to disqualify the athlete.

"It's the first time something like this has happened. I'm pretty sure that from now on, there will be some form of checks to avoid something like this to happen again in a major race."

Kenya's Leonard Langat, who finished three seconds behind Hurisa, was declared the winner as a result. He said: "Of course I would have preferred to have broken the tape. I had no clue about the disqualification until they told me."

Images suggest Hurisa was wearing the Adidas Adizero Prime X shoe, with Langat sporting the Adizero Adios Pro 2 model. Adidas' spokesmen were not available for comment.

Cutting-edge running shoe technology has been part of a years-long effort to improve times. Nike was the first to add a carbon plate to the sole of its running sneakers, with competitors following suit.

Eliud Kipchoge ran the world's only sub-two-hour marathon on a closed course in Vienna in 2019, in carbon-plated Nike shoes. His time of 1:59:40 shaved almost two minutes off his official world record of 2:01:39 set at the 2018 Berlin marathon.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2021, with the headline 'Shoe tech lands runner in trouble'. Subscribe