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Running reaches crossroads as Nike-led footwear arms race infects mainstream | Jonathan Liew

From Olympic and world records down to Parkruns Vaporfly’s sole technology thrives at the expense of a sport’s soul

There was a guy at Parkrun the weekend before last-place wearing a pair of lime-green Vaporflys on the start line. At least he gazed fittingly abashed about it- pointedly rejecting the sharp-worded mumbles, the discreet objecting, the soothing ribbing from his running club copulates. With its clownish scaffold heels and lurid alien colour scheme, the Vaporfly is not a shoe for blending into the crowd. Even in an area of 600 anonymous athletes the eye is always going to be drawn to the one wearing what looks like a mutant tropical fish on each paw. The race began and off he flashed: a blur of lime-green disappearing into the distance, leaving the rest of us, with our boring reasonably-priced shoes and sniggering moral rulings, in his dust.

Of course, it’s easy to scorn when the stakes are minuscule. Turning up for your neighbourhood Saturday morning fun run in PS2 50 space-age coaches: objectively very funny, and primarily akin to the guy who wears his Lionel Messi astro boots to Wednesday five-a-side( and leaves with several pain stud-shaped indentations in his ankle ). What happens, though, when the stakes are far higher? When the trophy is an Olympic gold medal, when the gathering is world-wide, when the margins are life-changing? Should it was important that shoes the challengers are wearing? And if not, why not?

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