When does winning feel a lot like losing? Probably when your feet are bloodied and blistered, and you've just missed a world record by seconds.
That's the story today for Eliud Kipchoge, who won the Berlin Marathon but missed the event's world record by a mere 63 seconds. The most frustrating part for Kipchoge has to be the way he finished: With the insoles in his Nike running shoes flopping out from his shoe's heels.
Yes, the brand famous for running shoe innovation is now at the center of one of the biggest footwear faux pas of recent memory. Kipchoge's attempt to set the world record -- on one of the world's fastest marathon courses, no less -- was sabotaged by a prototype shoe that had a lot going wrong.
According to Runner's World, the 30-year-old noticed that something was wrong with his shoes early on in the race. By the 10-mile mark, the insoles were visibly popping out of the shoe.
Kipchoge kept going, but the shoes took a toll on him. He said the pain and discomfort became a major distraction during the 26.2-mile race, which featured Adidas as one of its sponsors.
"It was not easy," he told Runner's World. "There are blisters on the left foot and my big toe is cut, with lots of blood."
Even so, Kipchoge set a new personal record of 2 hours, 4 minutes flat in the marathon. The world record is 2:02:57, set by Dennis Kimetto of Kenya at last year's Berlin Marathon.
After the race, Kipchoge held back from throwing the shoe under the bus.
"The glue on the insole did not stick," he said. "It is a good shoe and I have tested that same shoe in training, but that is sport. I have to accept it. I think I would have run faster than that but I don't know the time."
Nike had a bullish response to the incident.
"As with any prototype, elements can sometimes go wrong," said a Nike spokesman to Fortune. "On this occasion, the sockliner didn’t work. As in all innovation, we will learn quickly from mistakes."