On the evening of Friday, July 20, 1990, half-an-hour after the Crystal Palace stadium had emptied of folk and the main lights had been turned off, I walked on the infield with my esteemed colleague Cliff Temple and the man who had just propelled a javelin over it to a world record distance, Steve Backley.
As Sunday paper journalists, Cliff and I were both looking for a follow-up from the stories that would appear in the following day's prints, highlighting the throw of 90.98 metres with which the mighty Briton had reclaimed the world mark from his Czech rival, Jan Železný.
We chatted as we walked, and after reaching the point, as near as he could reckon, where his implement had landed, Backley looked back to the javelin throwing area and reflected: "That is a long way..."
It was, and always will be. But just over a year later that effort in South London was a world record with an asterisk alongside it, one of a number of marks that had been retrospectively removed from the main line and turned into a branch line – on technical grounds relating to the design of the javelin used.
The recent spate of athletics world records on road and track has caused considerable discussion to do with – mainly, if not entirely – the use of a new generation of shoes that have been generally deemed to improve performance to a significant degree.
Last week's latest world record flourish in Valencia, in which Uganda's Joshua Cheptegei and Letesenbet Gidey of Ethiopia set new marks in the men's 10,000 metres and women's 5,000m respectively, refocused attention in some quarters upon the technology that was assisting these efforts.
Specifically the shoes, although additionally the Wavelight system which offers a constant update on pacing via a system of LEDs on the inside of the track.
Similar circumstances played a part in Sifan Hassan's achievement in taking more than 24 seconds off Paula Radcliffe's European 10,000m record despite pouring rain at the Hengelo meeting on Saturday (October 10).
Some believe that the new shoes mark such a significant technological step forward that the new marks should be regarded as records in a different era, differentiated from previous efforts, in the manner that the javelin world records were reappraised in the 1980s and 1990s.
The first of these two javelin shifts took place in 1986, and is often represented as being a safety measure for the benefit of officials and spectators. In 1984, the world record of 104.80m set by East Germany's Uwe Hohn was pushing the boundaries of the infield.
But, as an article by Erich Bremicker from IAAF/New Studies in Athletics – 3/4.00 makes clear, while the safety concern was part of the issue for the Technical Committee of the International Amateur Athletic Federation (as the world athletics governing body then was), the main spur was to prevent the increasing number of flat landings by javelins and the "resulting discussions and protests because of attempts declared valid or invalid by competition judges".
Experiments on shifting the centre of balance in the men's javelin had begun in 1982 and 1983 in order to guarantee that it landed point-first.
"It was clear to all of us that a reduction in the throwing distance achieved should also play a role in the change to be made, because the world record at that time was 99.72m," Bremicker wrote.
"In demanding a change of the construction rules, however, our primary goal was to achieve an exactly measurable landing of the javelin so that it was no longer completely up to the discretion of the judge on the infield to declare a throw valid or invalid."
The rule change was already prepared before Hohn's monster effort in Berlin's Olympic Stadium.
Klaus Tafelmeier of West Germany established the first world record mark with the newly-balanced implement by throwing 85.74m in September 1986.
Backley's effort at Crystal Palace was achieved using the "Nemeth model" javelin, one of a controversial new range of implements in which the tail section was modified by being roughened or serrated in order to improve performance.
It was his first, experimental use of this new kind of spear, which was not made admissible for that year's European Championships in Split, and it proved spectacularly successful as he became once more the world record holder. He then saw that distinction pass to Finland's Seppo Raty, who hurled the roughened version of the javelin to 91.98m in May 1991, and 96.96m in June 1991.
At its Congress ahead of the Tokyo World Championships in August 1991, the IAAF outlawed javelins including the Nemeth model that had been modified to provide increasing tail drag through using holes, rough paint or dimples, and annulled the world records set with them by Zelezny, Backley and Raty.
The world record thus reverted to Backley's throw of 89.58m achieved in July 1990, with the Sandvik model that conformed to the 1986 re-boot.
Backley improved that mark to 91.46m in 1992 before Zelezny set three successive world records, the last of them, 98.48m, still standing from 1996.
Back to the track – and the question – does the current generation of shoes represent a step change – as it were – sufficient to merit a new classification of world records currently being set?
Tim Hutchings, an Olympian who has earned Commonwealth and European medals on the track, is a close observer of the road and track scene as a marathon organiser and commentator, and he believes the answer to that question is yes.
"It's clear that performances in these shoes, both road and track, should be in a separate category, or at least asterisked," he told insidethegames.
"To compare performances in the shoes, with those not in the shoes, is grossly unfair to the athletes in the latter category.
"I'm not alone in estimating that they are giving the athletes 0.7 to 1.0 second per lap, so those runs the other night, those 'world records', were almost farcical in my opinion.
"I agree that's not very scientific, but it's very clear the shoes are helping; or else why would people wear them and how else would people, hundreds of them, if not thousands, be running these huge PBs?"
World Athletics has found itself in an awkward situation in the face of these technological advances.
On July 28 this year, it reduced the maximum allowable height of soles in spiked track shoes to 25 millimetres.
In January, World Athletics ruled that road shoes for official competition could have a sole depth of no more than 40mm, and no more than one rigid, embedded plate. They will also have needed to be "on the open retail market" for at least four months.
That effectively made illegal the latest model of the Nike Alphafly shoe in which Eliud Kipchoge bettered two hours for the marathon in October 2019 and are said to have an "eight per cent" benefit. But it allowed use of the earlier Vaporfly range, with its supposed "four per cent" advantage that had been on sale for almost four years.
You could argue that World Athletics should have acted much more swiftly. But at the point where the rules changed, it would clearly have been impossible to tell not only a huge number of elite runners but also countless thousands of club runners and marathoners that their shoes were illegal. It was a commercial force majeure, if you like.
One other point. While recent world record breakers appear to have gained an advantage from their shoes, we have not been looking at two to three years worth of exceptional world record-breaking efforts, despite the fact that the new generation of shoes have been available in that time.