1998 – Ronaldo da Costa

Source: Unknown (please contact me if this is your photo)

20-Sep-1998 – Berlin Marathon – 2:06:05 – Nike Air Streak
Date of birth: 7-Jun-1970
Nationality: Brazilian
World Record Duration: 1 year, 1 month, 4 days

The athlete:                
The 1998 Berlin Marathon would be only the second such event for Ronaldo Da Costa. His first was at the same event the previous year, where he finished 5th with a time of 2:09:07. His running career had started ten years earlier, with Da Costa showing his potential when he finished 3rd at the half-marathon world championships in 1994. His training at its peak consisted of over 120 miles of running each week, with Da Costa focussing equally on speed work. This included exercises normally favoured by sprinters. As for the day of the race, Da Costa said himself that conditions were so good he just went for it.

By the middle of the race, Da Costa felt the pace was too slow so he accelerated, blazing through the next five kilometres in 14:20. His pace did not abate, with Da Costa becoming the first man to run 40 kilometres in under 2 hours. As it was, he ran the second half of the race quicker than the first half. It was little surprise he finished with a time of 2:06:05 and became the new marathon world record holder.

Da Costa was never able to repeat these heroics at the 2000 Olympics. Following three kidnap attempts since his win at the 1998 Berlin Marathon, Da Costa had to go into hiding. This meant he was unable to train in safety, and could not qualify for the Brazilian team. While he would still compete for several more years, he was unable to build on his initial success and his achievement in 1998 would stand as his greatest.

The shoes:                   

His shoes were the lightweight Nike Air Streak, the white and neon green runners on display in the magazine cover attached. They were in fact the 1995 model, still using the Phylon midsole foam that Nike had introduced over a decade before, combined with extra Duralon foam in the forefoot.

The Air Streak also sported separate front and rear air units. These were an proved version of previous air units, using tensile fibres woven within to improve responsiveness. This technology would be renamed to Zoom Air the next year, and has continued to feature on Nike products since.

It came in at 238 grams, which while lightweight was actually one of the heavier shoes on this list. While they haven’t been retroed, Nike has brought back the Air Streak Light, released alongside the Air Streak. It removed the front air unit to save weight, coming in at 213 grams.