DUBAI: Athletes wearing the controversial Nike Vaporfly shoes have backed themselves to set fast times at the Dubai Marathon this Friday as they make their case for Olympic selection.
Several elite men and women runners will wear the high-tech footwear used by athletes in stunning performances since 2016.
At a news conference on Wednesday, elite athletes said they were expecting a gruelling race that is stacked with a roster of Ethiopians.
"I am here to win and if I win, I think I will be in the Olympic team," Ethiopian Solomon Deksisa said in Dubai.
Deksisa said he could shave more than 40 seconds off his personal best of 02:04:40 this week but dismissed any suggestion the Vaporfly he will wear would give him an edge.
"It's just comfort," he said.
Compatriot Seifu Tura Abdiwak, also wearing the Vaporfly, said he could run the distance in around 2:03:00. That would set a new course record and smash 1 minute and 44 seconds off his personal best. Dubai has a men's course record of 2:03:34 and Eliud Kipchoge's world record is 2:01:39.
Tura told Reuters the Vaporfly was more durable than other footwear, and Mexico's Jose Luis Santana Marin said it acted like a spring but that the shoe was "not really an advantage".
Santana Marin said this week he was targeting to run under 2:10:00 which is below his personal best of 2:10:54.
Boston Marathon women's race winner Worknesh Degefa Debele said she was not worried about which shoes racers wore.
"I only believe in hard work. I don't care if anyone is wearing Nike or Adidas," she said, speaking through a translator.
She will race in Adidas shoes.
(Reporting by Alexander Cornwell; editing by Nick Macfie)