Challenge Dubai winner and current Ironman 70.3 world champion Daniela Ryf sported some interesting ballet-like cycling shoes during today’s race that raised some eyebrows. As Ryf’s coach Brett Sutton wrote in a post on Trisutto.com recapping her race, “The bike innovations with Dani are a work in progress as we look to develop her bike leg. Not to be able to cycle faster [most would agree she’s already pretty solid in this area] but to be able to run faster off the bike. So the new ‘ballet’ shoes, which were noticed by many, are part of the process of helping a great deal in this area. They also look pretty cool.”
Behind the minimalistic shoes, called the biomxc2, is Götz Heine, an innovator and chiropractor known for popularizing the mid-foot cleat position. He gives a short explanation of the shoes here.
In an interview done in 2011, Hines explains the origin of his shoes and the pros and cons of a mid-foot position.
Furthering his beliefs about the benefits was the outcome of a study published in the Journal of Science and Cycling in 2012. New Zealand-based researchers Carl David Paton and Timothy Jardine looked at 12 triathletes during a 30-minute bike to 5.5K run with both a normal cleat position (under the ball of the foot) and a mid-foot position.
They found that run times with the mid-foot position resulted in a run that was 2.2 percent faster than the normal position, explaining the improvement as “likely due to a reduction in the rate of plantar flexor muscle fatigue during the cycling phase of the event.”
As coach Joe Friel, a longtime midsole cleat advocate, explained in a blog post in 2011, “the reason for this line of thinking is that a midsole cleat requires less work by the calf muscles to pedal the bike, thus allowing these primary mover muscles for running to be fresher when the run begins in a multi-sport race.”
Is this shoe and position for everyone? Not necessarily. Plenty of studies over the years have argued for and against the mid-foot position—including this 2013 study that shows the exact inverse was true—but it’s interesting to note what is working for one of the top women in triathlon right now.