Double IRONMAN World Champion Chris McCormack was in generally candid form as he gave his thoughts 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 shattered in the men’s race.
Winner Gustav Iden – and the top four, who were all Kona rookies – went under Jan Frodeno’s previous record.
Runner-up Sam Laidlow knocked Cam Wurf’s bike brand down nearly five minutes, then Iden – in the new prototype ON shoe – erased the marathon record.
And these ON shoes, with a stack height above the 40mm level stipulated by World Athletics for road races, have garnered a lot of attention.
But professional triathletes are not required to follow any regulations regarding their footwear, and “Team Norway” – and many others – continue to successfully push the boundaries.
This was particularly noticeable this year in Kona, with the big gap since the last edition of the event in Hawaii coinciding with an incredible progression in carbon-coated running shoes.
“Has it changed the game? Nope’
It’s something McCormack is a fan of as he told the MX Endurance podcast: “I love the changes in technology and let me be really, really clear – Gustav Iden would have won this race if not for those shoes.
“Personally, I believe in the case of Sam Laidlow, it is partly what allowed him to stay there. His performance was remarkable. Everyone wore them, Gustav’s were just a little thicker.
“It’s like comparing green apples with red apples. Did it change the game – no, because everyone had it – but if you don’t run in those shoes, forget it, it’s all over, you’re doomed.
And while McCormack was massively impressed with Iden and Laidlow, he also warned that the IRONMAN bar may not have been raised as much as many commentators have suggested.
He told podcast host Tim Ford: “Dropping a 2:36 marathon in all conditions is tough. But I would still say a Craig Alexander or Jan Frodeno in form [would be] quite capable of delivering something similar with the same technology.
Indeed, Macca gives a fascinating story of the revolutionary role of technology throughout Kona’s history, of which this is only the last stage.
And there’s a lot more interest in the chat – including strong, informed opinions about drafting and the obsession with fast times, with potential downsides for pros and age groups.