Since 2016, Nike was obsessed with breaking the two-hour running marathon record. Such was the infatuation, the US sportswear giant had an enormous “1:59” daubed across a wall in its Portland, Oregon HQ. This served as a reminder to all about the superhuman challenge the company had set itself.
Nike achieved its goal in 2019. Its legendary distance runner and ambassador Eliud Kipchoge clocked a time of 1:59:40 in Vienna, Austria. Obviously, the Kenyan’s natural ability was paramount in breaking the record, but the sub-two-hour weapon – or weapons – at his disposal were Nike’s controversial running shoes. The Nike Alphafly propelled Kipchoge to the finish line – quite literally.
Fitted with three carbon fibre plates extra cushioning pods, the Alphafly is arguably the world’s most technically advanced running shoe. It recycles the energy from each stride that hits the ground to give the wearer a little forward propulsion.
While this tech has long been used in the world of running shoes to make athletes faster and more efficient with their power distribution, Nike is the first to demonstrably prove it on the world stage.
We know it helped achieve the almost impossible, but what of the average person on the street? Although the Alphafly was a one-off for Kipchoge, Nike has an equivalent for the masses – the tongue-twisting Nike Air ZoomX Alphafly NEXT%. So, I decided to find out if they could make me – a non-competitive runner – any better.