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World Athletics approves new rules and regulations for shoes in competition

A big change is coming to the maximum stack height in track spikes allowed during competition

Men's 4x100m Photo by: Team Canada

It was announced today that World Athletics has approved new shoe rules and regulations for competition. The new rules have brought a major update to the future of the sport, as athletes will not be allowed to wear shoes that have over a 20mm stack height during competition. This rule is set to be implemented in November 2024, which is after the Paris Summer Olympics and the 2024 Diamond League season.

The previous rule was 20mm stack height for sprint and hurdle events up to 400m and 25mm for events 800m and above. The sport has seen a technological revolution in footwear over the past 10 years, but with new innovations come challenges to maintain a fair level of competition.

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Here are the main points of the new amendments (per World Athletics):

  • A new ‘applicable competitions scope’ that the new rules and regulations will apply to. They will not be applied to most amateur clubs, schools or even masters-level competitions.
  • A reduction of sole thicknesses across all athletic shoes in track and field events to a maximum stack height of 20mm from Nov. 1 2024 onwards. (World Athletics created this timeline to give shoe manufacturers notice before spending money in production). The current sole thicknesses rules will continue until Oct. 31st, 2024.
  • World Athletics will put a greater emphasis on conducting post-race spot checks on athletes’ shoes – electing shoe control officer roles at major competitions. There will be some events like major marathons, where pre-event shoe declarations will continue for elite athletes.
  • Shoes must not contain any embedded ‘sensing or intelligent’ technology. This does not apply to the use of heart rate or cadence monitors.

You can view World Athletics’ full list of rules and regulations, here.

The other rules, besides the ’20mm stack height’ rule, are set to be put in place starting on Jan. 1, 2022, replacing the previous ‘Technical Rule 5.2’  that was set to expire on Dec. 31, 2021. A major issue with creating new rules is exploring a sustainable long-term solution, to create a balance between innovation and fairness. 

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World Athletics also cited that they measured the performance advantages of the current technology on the market, specifically the shoes that offer energy return. While the observations they have collected have value, there is no rule on the maximum amount of energy return in the updated rules and regulations because the shoes are already released to the public.

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