When Nike em­barked

Runner's World (UK) - - Tech Special -

on a project to break the two-hour marathon bar­rier, the com­pany put its vast re­sources to­wards train­ing the right ath­letes, find­ing a per­fect course with ideal con­di­tions and, of course, de­vel­op­ing finely tuned footwear with in­no­va­tive new tech­nolo­gies. The com­pletely cus­tom footwear (called Zoom Va­por­fly Elite) un­veiled for the sub-two at­tempt this spring reignited de­bate over whether a shoe can give a run­ner an un­fair ad­van­tage. So, will it? The jury is still out, but the com­pany is ap­ply­ing some of the R&D from its elite ‘con­cept car’ shoes to two mod­els that will be avail­able to us mere mor­tals from June 8 (Nike.com), so you can chase a faster per­for­mance of your own (pre­sum­ably free of any IAAF in­ter­fer­ence).

Us­ing light­weight, re­silient foam and a stiff car­bon-fi­bre plate, the Zoom Va­por­fly 4% is de­signed to get you from start to fin­ish us­ing less en­ergy. A sec­ond con­sumer model, the Zoom Fly – with a dif­fer­ent foam-and car­bon-in­fused ny­lon plate – will also be avail­able. At the Run­ner’s World Shoe Lab, we tested the Zoom Va­por­fly 4% on an elite run­ner at speeds up to 2:17 marathon pace. Here’s what the data told us…

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