As technology advances and the MUT world grows, runners and inventors will push the limits of what we’ve collectively agreed upon as “acceptable.”
Surely, running with a GPS on your wrist gives a marked advantage over someone running blind. A couple of gels in your pockets will help if your competition relies on aid station food, and there are no rules against using the latest and lightest clothing, shoes, or other gear. Some races don’t allow trekking poles, but I assume that has more to do with our inability to use them without spearing each other, rather than any advantage they may offer. Most of these advances were questioned at first, but are now firmly accepted as legitimate practices and tools.
Running shoes have advanced from paired-down tennis shoes to what we’ve got today. Materials like Adidas Boost that claim to return energy to the wearer, springs in the heel that cushion the foot, and metal cleats that provide extra traction on the slippery trails are all technological advances that no one questions.
I’m a bit of a running geek and have poured over dozens of MUT race rules, and have never seen any section stipulating what type of shoes are or are not allowed.
So what do we as a community do with something like the new Bionic Boot? It’s a boot that replicates the running stride of an ostrich, allowing the wearer to reach 25mph on the roads, and by the looks of the video, it provides decent traction on the trails.
Golf has dealt with new putter design, baseball has stipulated the size and material for bats, and cycling is quick to quash many new technological advances.
Do we stipulate in rules that runners can’t wear metal on their feet, or perhaps make a rule that shoes can’t extend above a certain part of the body? Do we allow them, and see where the technology leads, or do we quietly ignore them and wait for the lawsuits to bury the issue? Will we face a BladeRunner (ahem, sans murder) problem at some point where someone with a handicap attempts to wear these in a race as “prosthetic devices”? Where is the line drawn?
Race directors, how would you respond to a finisher bounding across the finish line? Runners, would you buy a pair (looks like a few hundred bucks) to train in and play with? Why or why not? Is our sport not at a place where this matters, or is it something that we should deal with preemptively?
What do you think?