At the Fukuoka Japanese Marathon in 1975, Canada Jerome Drayton broke his 1969 Canadian record to win the marathon in 2:10:09 – a record that lasted 43 years until Cam Levins smashed it at the 2018 Toronto Waterfront Marathon (2:09:25). When Levins set the record, he raced in the Hoka Carbon Rocket X, a shoe with carbon-plated technology that Drayton didn’t have 43 years ago. Both times are remarkable, but it calls into question what Drayton’s time would mean today if he had had carbon-plated shoes.
In the 1970s, the Fukuoka Marathon had a reputation as the unofficial world championship, as the organizers invited the best marathoners from around the world to Fukuoka to compete. Drayton has won the race three times in seven years, beating the greats of the American marathon Shorter Frank and from Japan So shigeru (who held the world record from 1978 to 1980).
When Drayton set his record, he wore neither Adidas Adizero Pro nor Nike Vaporfly. He had the Adidas SL76 on his feet, which has been described as “the shoe for all seasons,” designed to walk the marathon roads and jog around the block. The shoe featured ultralight technology, a ghillie buckle lacing system, and an EVA midsole – in short, a lightweight, flat running shoe.
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In a 2021 video by a Brigham Young University student Easton Allred, he discussed the development of carbon-plated shoes with a professor of biomechanics, Dr Iain Hunter, which studies how people can run faster by the way they move. The two discussed the impact carbon-clad shoes have on athletic performance and the time they can take per mile.
Hunter has discovered that the best carbon-clad shoes can take off for two to three seconds per mile.
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If you take Drayton’s time of 2:10:09 and subtract two seconds from every mile, that equates to about 84 seconds of his time (2:08:45). Again, this calculation is hypothetical, but this time would be a record and would not have been touched by any Canadian rider to date.