Ethiopia’s Ababel Yeshaneh became the latest athlete to break a world record wearing Nike’s controversial Vaporfly shoes as she won the Ras Al Khaimah half marathon in the United Arab Emirates.
Yeshaneh emerged triumphant Friday after a race-long duel with world marathon record holder Brigid Kosgei of Kenya to cross the line in one hour four minutes 31 seconds, slicing 20 seconds off the previous best set by Joyciline Jepkosgei in Valencia in 2017.
Second-placed Kosgei was also two seconds inside the old mark set by her compatriot for a new Kenyan record.
“I didn’t imagine this result,” said Yeshaneh, who was taking more than a minute off her previous best for the half marathon distance.
Running at four minute 55 second pace per mile (1604m), Yeshaneh shrugged off the attentions of Kosgei after the 16km mark and pulled away for a famous victory.
Both were running in an revised version of Nike’s Vaporfly shoes, which comply with new rules set by World Athletics to limit the thickness of the sole and the use of carbon plates.
Kosgei was wearing an earlier model when she smashed the 2003 world marathon record of Britain’s Paula Radcliffe in last year’s Chicago marathon with a time of two hours 14 minutes four seconds.
It came a day after her Kenyan compatriot Eliud Kipchoge became the first man to run the marathon in under two hours, using the same version of the shoes.
Kipchoge’s time of one hour 59 minutes 40 seconds will not enter the official record books because of his use of multiple teams of pacemakers, but the stunning nature of both performances raised questions over the high-tech Nike shoes.
World Athletics acted last month to set new rules over sole thickness, but there are still concerns that athletes using shoes of other companies may be at a competitive disadvantage in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Kenya’s Kibiwott Kandie won the men’s race in Ras Al Khaimah in a time of 58 minutes, 58 seconds, 18 seconds clear of compatriot Alexander Mutiso in second and just under a minute outside of the world record.