In the 1960s, when traditional cinder athletics tracks were replaced by spongy, synthetic surfaces, endurance running experienced a revolution. Long distance runners began clocking far faster times on the synthetic tracks, smashing multiple world records in the process.
Today, another revolution is afoot: the development of the so-called “super shoe,” which is driving another spike of record toppling in endurance running. The new shoe technology was introduced to road running in 2016 and track running in 2019, and since those key dates virtually all endurance running world records, from the 5,000m to the marathon, have been broken.
This has divided opinion in the athletics world, with some arguing the shoes are unfair while others argue they’re just like synthetic running tracks: an inevitable technological leap for endurance runners to capitalize upon.