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Marathon champ Eliud Kipchoge’s new shoe

Words by Rob Chilton

The Kenyan world record holder told Nike what he wanted in his dream running shoe and they listened

When a guy who can run a marathon a full hour quicker than the runtime of Avengers: Endgame tells you he wants more grip in his running shoes, you’d better take notice.

Eliud Kipchoge wins the 2019 London Marathon

The Kenyan marathon world record holder Eliud Kipchoge asked Nike for increased traction down below after he won a rain-soaked Berlin Marathon in September 2017. The engineers scurried back to the lab and came up with the Nike Zoom Vaporfly Next%, which took Kipchoge around the London Marathon course last month in a winning time of 2hr 2m 37sec, a minute behind his world record feat.

Improved traction

An update of the Vaporfly 4%, Nike says the new Vaporfly Next% is its fastest shoe ever. Packed with a string of bells and whistles, the name comes from multi Olympic gold medal winner Mo Farah who said, “As an athlete, you’re always looking for that next per cent.”

As well as improved traction requested by Kipchoge, the Vaporfly Next% has more foam in the midsole to add stability and energy return; offset laces for more comfort; a foam pod inside the heel to take the strain off the Achilles tendon; and a new Vaporweave fabric, which is lighter than Nike’s Flyknit and absorbs less water from sweat or rain.

Mo Farah suggested design tweaks

Farah said the plate of the shoe “gets you moving forward as fast as you can.” Along with Farah and Kipchoge, American long-distance champion Shalane Flanagan also had input into the design tweaks and the testing process. “This shoe is the result of our athletes, sport scientists, engineers and designers closely collaborating,” said Brett Holts, Nike VP of Running Footwear.

While the Vaporfly Next% (AED 1,299) may not enable you to stay on Kipchoge’s shoulder for the full 26 miles, it should at least add some extra bounce to your next run.

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