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Runner breaks European record, disqualified for wearing NEXT% shoes

Sondre Moen of Norway broke the European one hour track record, but did so in NEXT% shoes, making his time un-ratifiable

On August 7, Sondre Moen of Norway broke the European one hour track record, running just over 21K in an hour and clocking 56:53 in the 20,000m en route, another national record. He broke Jos Hermens‘ record, which has stood for over 40 years. Unfortunately, after Moen broke the record, he found out that the new World Athletics shoe rules had already taken effect, meaning the shoe he wore disqualified him, and his record wouldn’t count. 

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On July 28, World Athletics announced their amended shoe rules for the 2020-2021 competition season. The new rules were first announced in January when WA set boundaries on the two biggest issues in shoe technology: availability and shoe construction. The newest changes to the rules included a maximum height for spikes and the establishment of an ‘Athletic Shoe Availability Scheme’ for unsponsored elite athletes. The maximum stack height for road shoes of 40mm (which caused much controversy in January) remained the same. 

However, what was misunderstood was that these new rules were taking effect immediately, and that the track rules weren’t limited to shoes with spikes on the bottom – they included road shoes worn on the track as well. 

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Moen wore the NEXT% to run what would have been the European record. After his race, he realized the mistake and told reporters, “I really regret doing it.” On Thursday, World Athletics published their list of approved shoes according to distance, and the NEXT% isn’t allowed in any event that’s not on the road, including cross-country. 

As American ultra runner Camille Herron pointed out on Twitter, the new WA guidelines give the same restrictions for track shoes for all distances over 800m. But she reminds us that many ultras are run on tracks too, and argues that there need to be different rules depending on the distance. 

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