Nike has announced that its controversial Alphafly running shoes will be be available for purchase in the summer of 2020.
Footwear giant Nike will be releasing the Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% running shoes, a version of the record-breaking prototype worn by Eliud Kipchoge in Vienna last October, in the summer of this year.
The shoes have a thick foam sole and added cushioning under the forefoot that makes it look like something from a sci-fi film. Nike calls it a sign of “game-changing progress” but running purists say the technology could harm the integrity of athletics.
In January, World Athletics, running’s governing body, announced that it is looking at the legality in professional competition of modern shoes, including the Nike shoes worn by Kipchoge when he became the first person to run a sub two-hour marathon last year.
Kipchoge wore a protype Vaporfly from Nike, called the Alphafly, when he set a sub two-hour marathon record in 2019, which wasn’t ratified by World Athletics because it was not set in a proper race.
Kenya’s Brigid Kosgei also wore the Vaporfly Next% when she beat Paula Radcliffe’s 16-year-old women’s marathon world record last year. The shoes, as well as similar designs from other brands, are being scrutinized by a panel of experts convened by World Athletics.
World Athletics recently approved Nike’s Vaporfly range, but prohibited any shoes with soles thicker than 40 millimeters or with more than one plate to enhance their spring and will also ban from competition any shoes that have not been on public sale for four months.
Tony Bignell, VP of Footwear Innovation at Nike, argued: “For runners, records like the four-minute mile and two-hour marathon are barometers of progress. These are barriers that have tested human potential. When someone like Eliud breaks them, our collective belief about what’s possible changes.”