Sneakers series: EP 1 – Nike ZOOMX Vaporfly NEXT%

Is it possible to make a shoe that will make you run faster? Nike thinks it is. So in 2016, they released the Nike Vaporfly 4%.

This is what they look like.

The Nike Vaporfly 4% has 2 key things a higher midsole and a carbon fiber plate. How do these things make you run faster? According to runnersworld.com, ‘The curved carbon fiber plate stabilizes your ankle when you hit the floor, reducing the work your calves would normally do.’ Also, the plate keeps your toes straight, reducing the work of flexing your toes you would normally do. Lastly, the foam in the midsole, which Nike calls ZoomX is exceptionally soft and springy. Research says it returns 80% of energy from each stride to the heel, so it keeps you going faster for longer. All these calculations led to the claim that the shoes make you run 4% faster than normal hence the name – Nike Vaporfly 4%. In real life?

The 2018 Berlin Marathon was the 45th edition of the Berlin Marathon. The marathon took place in Berlin, Germany, on 16 September 2018 and was won by Eliud Kipchoge. He was wearing the Nike Vaporfly 4%.

In 2017, a study was published by the journal Sports Medicine and every one of the 18 runners tested at the University of Colorado Boulder’s “Locomotion Lab” had better running economy in the Vaporflys than when they ran in two other racing shoe models (Nike Zoom Streak 6 and Adidas Adios Boost 2).

For Eliud Kipchoge’s next challenge, Nike took the Vaporfly a step further and this time it was called the Nike Vaporfly NEXT%. The number 4 was removed because Nike believes the improvement on the 4% is hard to quantify.

The midsole foam is higher, there is more than one metal plate (made of carbon fibre) and they have added air pods (Kind of like airbags) to distribute air as you run and reduce the work you have to do drastically. Also, instead of using Flyknit, which fits like a sock, the company revealed they used Vaporweave. Vaporweave is made of two different plastics. A thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) thread makes up a mesh while a thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) covers the bulk of the foot. It doesn’t absorb moisture and therefore does not get heavier as the athlete’s foot sweats. Running is a numbers game and the science of shaving off a little weight and adding a little spring is what makes all the difference.

When Eliud Kipchoge ran the first-ever marathon under 2 hours, his time was 1:59:40. 20 seconds is a huge time difference when you run a race, and sometimes the right shoes can buy you just that extra advantage you need.

Racing regulatory bodies are worried about the new developments, so far the major rules are that whatever shoes are used in a professional race should be ‘widely available’ so no one is at an unfair advantage. Will there be regulations on the height of the midsole? The number of metal plates? The presence (or not) of air pods? That remains to be seen.

 

Cost – 113,384.65 Nigerian Naira

Colorways – Lemon // Pink // White and black

References

– Runnersworld.com

– Wired.co.uk

– Wikipedia

– Sneakernews.com

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