Eliud Kipchoge: It’s NOT the shoes!

I’ll admit it.

I love being right.

What am I right about this time?

The importance — or lack thereof — of shoes in Eliud Kipchoge’s sub-2-hour marathon performance.

I’ve talked about how shoes were NOT the delimiting factor in Kipchoge’s amazing run here, and in my podcast here, pointing out that the difference between his world record time of 2:01:38 in the Berlin marathon is only 4.58 seconds/mile slower than the sub-2, which was run with pacers, on a flat course (a.k.a. perfect conditions).

Well, guess who agrees with me? KIPCHOGE!

At Firstpost.com, sub-2-hour marathoner Eliud Kipchoge weighs in on how much of his success came from the Nike shoes he (and his pacers) wore for that event.

The answer?

Not as much as Nike or most commentators said.

More specifically:

“It is my legs that are still doing the running,” the Kenyan marathon runner told Firstpost in an email interaction when asked about the impact of his shoes in the eventual timing of 1:59:40 secs.


Running ~13 miles per hour for almost 2 hours is an AMAZING feat (pun intended).

But the way his accomplishment has been reported is mostly about how the shoes allowed him to do this.

And Kipchoge further downplays the role of shoes in his success:

“Innovations are part of sport and always have been. With running, the effect of technology will always be minimal especially if you compare it to other sports.”

Distance running coach, Dr. Phil Maffetone, thinks shoes DO matter, but not for the reason most people believe.

In his book, “1:59 – The Sub-Two-Hour Marathon is Within Reach,” Maffetone thinks the first person to run a sub-2 in a normal race will do so barefoot (I think his 2nd choice would be something like our Speed Force).

Some day, I hope we have the resources to pick the world’s best marathoner, support him (or her!) to train barefoot or in Xero Shoes, and show that lightweight (you can’t get lighter than bare feet) and natural (hard to get more natural than Xero Shoes) will “let your legs do the running” to a sub-2.