The Nike Zoom Vaporfly
As I have talked about my running sneaker choices, I realize that shoes could make a run more comfortable, more stable, but could they make you faster?
Sneaker company Nike has teamed up with elite runners and scientists since 2014 to achieve a sub 2 hour marathon, something some believe is impossible. The effort is known as Breaking2. The current fastest time is 2:03:03, quite impressive given how many recreational runners struggle to sub 2 a half marathon.
As part of that effort, Nike is releasing new sneakers.
The Zoom Vaporfly Elite is only for the runners trying to break the 2 hour mark. The new revolution is a ultra light weigh cushioning material, known as ZoomX. The cushioning is lighter and softer than traditional foams, allowing more of it to be added, while still keep the shoe light. As a result, according to Nike, the sneakers are taller and more responsive while providing more cushioning from the road than a traditional racing shoe. The height of the shoe is also designed to reduce Achilles tendon strain. The sneakers only weigh 6.5 ounces, very light for a running shoe.
The Zoom Vaporfly has a unique heel designed to reduce drag, according to Runner's World.
The upper is Nike Flyknit, a knit material designed to be supportive.
In between 2 layers of foam is the most controversial part, a carbon-fiber plate. According to Nike the plate adds stiffness and helps reduce energy loss. According to the New York Times, the plate is shaped like a spoon and acts "as a kind of slingshot, or catapult, to propel runners forward."
The plate is designed to reduce 4 percent of the energy required to run. The NY Times says that's the equivalent of running downhill 1 to 1.5 percent.
That's where the controversy comes in. as any shoes that give an unfair advantage, like a spring are banned. According to the NY Times, Spira Footwear had shoes banned because of spring technology.
So far the Nike Zoom Vaporfly is allowed. Runners have worn an earlier version to great success. "The shoes cushioned the feet of all three medalists in the men’s marathon at the Rio Olympics last summer. Later, in the fall, they were worn by the winners of major marathons in Berlin, Chicago and New York," according to the NY Times.