In 1954, Sir Roger Bannister ran the first four-minute mile, breaking what was thought to be the limit of human potential. In doing so, he redefined what athletes were capable of and inspired confidence in others to do the same.
More than half a century later, Nike aims to overcome the last big hurdle in distance running, attempting an innovation 'moonshot' to inspire the generation ahead. It aims to break the two hour marathon mark, in the process reducing the current men’s world record time of 2:02:57 by over three percent. Partnering with elite runners Eliud Kipchoge, Lelisa Desisa and Zersenay Tadese, Nike hopes that the Nike Zoom Vaporfly Elite with Nike ZoomX midsole will propel this select group across the finish line in record time.
Individually-tuned for each athlete, just as how a Formula One car is customised for its racer, the Vaporfly Elite is the physical culmination of the relentless approach to research and innovation undertaken by Nike through the Breaking2 project. Rather than totally reinvent the wheel, the shoe completely reimagines materials employed in racing footwear for decades but uses each more intelligently, and more purposefully than ever before.
The biggest innovation here is the ZoomX midsole, which lends its name to the shoe itself. Remarkably lighter, softer, and more responsive than any shoe in the market, it allows the Vaporfly Elite to come in at 7 ounces, 2 less than Nike's elite sprinting shoes. In addition to the midsole comes a unidirectional carbon fibre plate, custom-fit for each racer. Scooped-shaped, the plate provides a feeling of forward motion while adding bending stiffness, improving the stride-by-stride efficiency for the athlete while minimising energy loss over the course of the race.
This is Nike's Formula One car, a shoe that only deserves to be worn by those worthy and capable of pushing for the 2 hour barrier. Nike has stopped at nothing in achieving this goal, scheduling a private marathon for the runners in the Monza racetrack to ensure that all variables are accounted for, and no stone is left unturned in allowing the runners the perfect condition to maximise their potential. Stay tuned.