Two-time IRONMAN World Champion Chris McCormack was in typically forthright form as he gave his take on Kona this year in the latest MX Endurance podcast (embedded below).
Back on the Big Island for the first time in three years following the COVID pandemic, records were smashed in the men’s race.
Runner-up Sam Laidlow knocked nearly five minutes off Cam Wurf’s bike mark and then Iden – in new prototype ON shoes – obliterated the marathon record.
And those ON shoes, with a stack height over the 40mm level stipulated by World Athletics for road running races, came in for plenty of attention.
But pro triathletes do not have to adhere to any regulations over their shoes and ‘Team Norway’ – and many others – continue to push the boundaries to great effect.
It was particularly noticeable this year at Kona, with the big gap since the event was last held in Hawaii coinciding with incredible progression in carbon-plated running shoes.
‘Did it change the game? No’
That’s something McCormack is a fan of as he told the MX Endurance podcast: “I love the changes to technology and let me be really, really clear – Gustav Iden would have won that race without those shoes.
“I personally believe in Sam Laidlow’s case, that was part of what enabled him to stay in it. His performance was remarkable. Everyone had them on, Gustav’s were just a little bit thicker.
“It’s like comparing green apples with red apples. Did it change the game – no, because everyone had it – but if you’re not running in those shoes, forget it, it’s all over, you’re doomed.”
And while McCormack was massively impressed by the likes of Iden and Laidlow, he also cautioned that maybe the IRONMAN bar hasn’t been raised as much as many commentators have suggested.
He told podcast host Tim Ford: “Dropping a 2:36 marathon in any conditions is hard. But I would still say a fit Craig Alexander or Jan Frodeno [would be] very much able to deliver something similar with the same technology.”
Indeed Macca gives a fascinating history of the game-changing role of tech throughout Kona’s history, of which this is just the latest step.
And there’s loads more of interest in the chat – including strong and informed views on drafting and the obsession with fast times, with potential downsides of that for both pros and age-groupers.