October 30th, 2020
New Era of Running Shoes
Carbon-plated shoes are on the rise in distance running. The recent global road race saw over 90% of the athletes wearing them.
The most controversial topic of the last two years in athletics has been a special agenda item following Eliud Kipchoge’s sub-2 hour marathon performance in a special event in Vienna in October 2019. It was claimed that the Nike Alphafly prototype worn by Kipchoge was a violation to the World Athletics rule providing that “shoes must not be constructed so as to give athletes any unfair assistance or advantage”. In January 2019, World Athletics amended its rules to limit the number of “rigid plate or blades”, allowing the soles up to a maximum thickness of 40mm in road events and 25mm for distance races on track.
First used by Reebok in 1990s, and even though the lightest running shoe to date was launched, carbon fiber could not find a permanent place on the production line those years due to its high cost. Adidas introduced a carbon-plated shoe during the same period, however, that shoe lasted in only one year as its forefoot was too stiff and required too much force to run. Shoes with carbon plates were not used in a way that made a real difference until 2008 when Adidas developed the Adizero Adios, special to marathon star Haile Gebrselassie, and contributed to the Ethiopian’s world record of 2:03:59 in the 2008 Berlin Marathon. Adidas Adios series remained the first choice of both the elite athletes and the recreational runners who targeted faster times until 2016. From 2016 on, Nike started working on a shoe for its rising star Eliud Kipchoge. The efforts paid off when Kipchoge broke the world marathon record by 2:01:39 in 2018 in Berlin wearing Vaporfly4% shoes. As the carbon-plated shoes have been dominating the market, other world leading manufacturers had to adapt to the trend. In 2019 and 2020, world records in men’s and women’s 5km, 10km, half marathon, 1 hour races were lowered in the new type shoes.
At the World Half Marathon Championships in the Polish city Gdynia on 17 October 2020, 108 athletes out of the 117 finishers in the men’s race wore shoes with carbon plates. According to the information published by the Frenchman Vincent Guyot, “Nike Vaporfly Next%” was the most preferred shoe, worn by 50 competitors including the gold medallist Jacob Kiplimo of Uganda. The carbon-plated shoes and the number of male finishers wearing them on their feet are as follows: Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next% (50 athletes), Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next% (25 athletes), Adidas Adizero Adios Pro (14 athletes), Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4% Flyknit (7 athletes), Asics Metaracer (6 athletes), New Balance Fuelcell RC Elite (2 athletes), Saucony Endorphin Pro (2 athletes), New Balance Fuelcell TC (1 athlete), Brooks Hyperion Elite 2 (1 athlete). Each of the following shoes without carbon plates were worn by one athlete: Adidas Adizero RC 2.0, Adidas Adizero Adios 2, Adidas Adizero Boston 8, Adidas Adizero Takumi Sen 5, Mizuno Duel Sonic, New Balance Fuelcell Prism, Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbo 2, Nike Zoom Gravity and an Asics prototype.
Whilst we enter a new era of running shoes, World Athletics strives to keep up to the technological innovations. The international governing body for athletics established a Working Group on Athletics Shoes on 15 July 2020. The Working Group will review the rules in collaboration with the manufacturers by the end of the year, and it is expected to advise further amendments.
October 15th, 2020
Countdown To Mountain Bike Worlds
Mountain bike marathon world champions will be decided in Sakarya. The race on October 25th will be timed by Depar Timing.
Mountain Bike Marathon World Championships, one of the most significant global events in mountain bike racing since its inauguration in 2003 by UCI (World Cycling Union), will be hosted in the Turkish city of Sakarya this year. Men will be racing over a distance of 110km while women pedal 80.9km in the event that will be staged at the Ayçiçeği Cycling Valley. The winners of the compelling challenge will not only be crowned the World Champions, but also will be entitled to wear the rainbow jersey, one of the most prestigious jerseys of the cycling world, until next year’s championships.
The strong field of bikers in Sakarya will include the reigning champion Hector Leonardo Paez Leon. The 38-year old Colombian had won the very first gold medal for his country in the championships history. On the women’s side, Pauline Ferrand-Prévot of France was victorious in the 2019 edition of the event held in Grachen, Switzerland.
Timing services at the 2020 UCI Mountain Bike Marathon World Championships will be provided by the multinational Depar Timing team.
October 4th, 2020
Kipchoge’s Win Streak Comes To End
Shura Kitata won the London Marathon in 2:05:41 while the world record holder Kipchoge lost after seven years and ten marathons.
The elite-only race due to the pandemic is run on a 2.15km loop over 19.6 laps. The owners of the two fastest times in history, Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya and Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia, were set for a duel, however, Bekele had to withdraw two days before the race due to a calf injury.
Having run in the leading group until the 37th kilometer, Kipchoge was unable to respond the five-men breakaway with 5km to finish. Ethiopian Kitata was the first to reach the finish line in 2:05:41. Kenyan Vincent Kipchumba followed a single seconds later. Sisay Lemma from Ethiopia was third in 2:05:45.
This was the second defeat in Kipchoge’s career over his 13 marathon. His only other loss had been back in 2013 when Wilson Kipsang broke the world record. The Kenyan star is beaten again 2562 days after his first defeat, but he remains the only athlete who has a 10-marathon streak. Two other legendary male marathoners, Ethiopians Abebe Bikila and Haile Gebrselassie, topped out at six in a row.
On the women’s side, Kenyan Brigid Kosgei was victorious with 2:18:58. Sara Hall from USA edged the reigning world champion Ruth Chepngetich of Kenya by four seconds, the two finishing in 2:22:01 and 2:22:05 respectively.
August 28th, 2020
All Eyes On France In Cycling
The postponed 2020 Tour de France is set to start on 29 August. The 21-stage race will be held under meticulous health measures.
The event, delayed for two months due to the lobal coronavirus pandemic, will see the clash of 176 cyclists from 30 countries representing 22 teams. The race will begin with the 156km Nice-Nice stage on Saturday 29 August and conclude with the 122 km long 21st stage between Mantes-la-Jolie and Paris Champs-Élysées on Sunday 20th of September.
The riders, teams’ staff members and race officials have been tested for COVID-19, and isolated two days before the start of the race. Entire tour entourage will be re-tested on the two rest days, on 7 September and 14 September. Under the health measures of the event, teams will be expelled if two members test positive.
On the 107th edition of the Tour, there are no finishes on iconic ascents such as L'Alpe d'Huez and Mount Ventoux. Most remarkable mountain finishes this year will happen on the ascents of the Puy Mary summit in Massif Central on stage 13 and on the Col de la Loze pass in the Alps on stage 17.
There is no team time trial either this year. There will only be one 36km individual time trial between Lure and La Planche des Belles Filles, to be held on stage 20.
The youngest rider to participate in the 2020 Tour de France is the 21-year old Frenchman Maxime Chevalier from Team B&B-Vital Concept. The oldest starter is Movistar’s 40-year old Spaniard Alejandro Valverde who is also the most experienced with twelve former participations. Tony Martin follows Valverde with 11 participations, Imanol Erviti and Pierre Rolland both with 10 participations.
Reigning champion Egan Bernal of Team Ineos will once again appear in France to defend his title. The 1997-born Colombian had abandoned the Critérium du Dauphiné road race two weeks ago due to a back injury.
August 17th, 2020
Back To Running Courses
Whilst several races scheduled to autumn are getting cancelled in Europe, the staged events are promising for the road runners.
Though the coronavirus is still in effect, mass participation events are getting back in some countries, particularly where the number of cases has dropped. The organisers developed various measures to ensure the health and safety of the participants in order to enable the comeback. Race timers take an important role in the “new normal” era as well.
The Moscow Half Marathon left a mark on the sports world in the first half of August with 9,511 runners crossing the finish line. The race was timed by ChronoTrack and the start, given in waves, took about 40 minutes in total. A 10m timing mat was set up at the start line, 8m lines served the purpose at the intermediate distances.
Major international road races in Turkey are to begin in September. The Izmir Half Marathon, which is limited to 500 participants, will take place on 6 September. Vodafone Istanbul Half Marathon, the only “gold” event remaining in September following the many cancellations of the World Athletics labelled road races, will also be held with a limited number of runners and without any participation from abroad. The race on 20 September will host the Turkish citizens and the foreigners residing in Turkey only. The 10km run is cancelled from the programme.
Depar Timing, set to be back in action at the Samsung Samsung Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swimming Race on 23 August, will make the first appearance in autumn road races at the Zagreb Marathon on 11 October.