This Was the Winningest Running Shoe of 2017

2017 was a big year for running.  Believe it or not, we might have to thank a pair of shoes for such monumental breakthroughs.

The shoe is the Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4%.  It was designed during the Breaking 2 attempt.  For those who didn’t follow this feat, the premise of the event was to break a 2-hour marathon.  Much like the first time in history that someone ran a sub-4 minute mile, it was meant to achieve what was once perceived impossible.  The event was held on a Formula One race track in Monza, Italy.  While 2 hours was not broken, Eliud Kipchoge stunned the world by running a marathon in 2:00:25.  Kipchoge went on to win the Berlin marathon in the same shoes.

The Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4% showed up time and time again this year during major wins.  Galen Rupp ran with them in Chicago.  Both male and female New York Marathon winners wore them this year (congrats, Shalane!)  Time and time again, the shoes have shown they can increase a runner’s efficiency on and off the elite field.  Prestigious publications like Wired and Runner’s World have both noted faster times.

Here’s how it works:

The Zoom Vaporfly 4% pairs a Nike ZoomX midsole (for responsive cushioning) with a full-length carbon plate (intended to minimize energy loss during toe bend without increasing demand for the calf). Together, these features can make runners up to four percent more efficient than Nike’s previous fastest marathon shoe.

And if you think that’s just propaganda from the running shoe behemoth, you’re wrong.  A nonpartisan study showed 4% less effort was required when using the shoe.

From Hoogkamer, W., Kipp, S., Frank, J.H. et al. Sports Med (2017):

The prototype [Nike Vaporfly 4%] shoes lowered the energetic cost of running by 4 percent on average. We predict that with these shoes, top athletes could run substantially faster and achieve the first sub-2-hour marathon.

The Vaporfly was promised in December, but it looks like it’s still stuck in the limbo of “Coming Soon“.  When it’s finally available, it has a hefty price tag: $250.  Regardless, if it can give me consistent PRs, my budget might have to take a hit.


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