US Track Star Parker Valby Wins in Nike Vaporfly with SPIKES!   - The Running Channel Advertisement

US Track Star Parker Valby Wins in Nike Vaporfly with SPIKES!  

BY: Mark Dredge
07 June 2024

American collegiate superstar runner Parker Valby won the NCAA 10,000m championship last night, her fifth national title, and she did it wearing Nike Vaporfly 3 hacked with track spikes.

When asked about the spiked Vaporflys in a post-race interview, Parker joked: “I’m a handy woman, and I sowed some spikes into them!” before explaining that Nike made them for her. 

She chose to wear the shoes, which had spikes in the outsole, as she’s racing 5,000m two days later, “and I’d like to have recovered legs,” she said. They’re “lovely shoes. Recovery shoes, honestly! My legs feel great.”

With a high stack of Nike ZoomX foam, they’re a more comfortable and forgiving option than a traditional track spike, but there’s one big question: are they legal?

In 2020, World Athletics ruled that the maximum race-legal shoe for professional athletes was 40mm on the road, and 25mm for middle-distance track events (reducing to 20mm on 1 November 2024). Nike Vaporfly 3 has a stack height of 40mm, so is technically illegal on the track.

But the NCAA still allows college athletes to wear shoes of any stack height on the track (in fact, more than half of the women running the 10,000m were wearing road supershoes). And they have a more lenient approach to shoes which are technically not on the World Athletics list of approved shoes, which also includes developmental shoes. These hacked Vaporflys are not on the approved list.

The race, at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, started slow, which was in Parker’s favour. Then with four laps to go she surged ahead, running the final 1,600m in 4:49.37, with a 62-second final lap. The win was controlled and easy in the end, finishing in 31:46, almost a minute slower than her personal best from earlier this year. 

It seemed like her attention was on the upcoming 5,000m, taking place on the same track two days later. She’ll run in a different shoe in that race, and when asked about it she said: “It’s a secret. You guys will get to see. I’m super excited for it.” Is it something new? “Something spicy!” she said.

Parker is in her final year at the University of Florida, and has had one of the best college runner careers of all time, where she’ll graduate holding NCAA records for the indoor 5,000m (14:52.79), outdoor 5,000m (15:20.10) and outdoor 10,000m (30:50.43). Parker’s 30:50 took 28-seconds off the previous NCAA record, and made her the 11th fastest American in history – in her first ever 10,000m race. While it’s not the 30:40 Olympic Trials standard, it’s the third-fastest time in the US during the qualifying period, and Parker is a strong contender to race in both the 5,000m and 10,000m at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

The next race after this weekend’s 5,000m is going to be between the major shoe brands who hope to sign Parker when she turns professional this summer. Last June, Parker penned a name-image-likeness (NIL) deal with Nike, which expires when she leaves college. It’s expected she’ll become one of the US’s best-paid athletes.

One thing’s for sure though: she definitely won’t be able to race in spiked supershoes when she graduates! 

Lead image Chris Chavez Citius Mag

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