Nike celebrates 35 years of its greatest running shoe the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus

In 2018, I will have been on this planet for 35 years. A lot of trends have come and gone during this time; like the Atari video game player, the Walkman, stick on earrings, neon parachute pants, and terry towelling headbands.

Other iconic items from the past three decades have endured, such as ripped jeans, the Rubik's cube, Polaroid cameras and the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus.

Nike introduced the Pegasus, intended to be the shoe for every runner, in 1983. Designed in part by Mark Parker (now Nike's CEO) to be "A more accessibly-priced every person's Air training shoe," it has gone on to be the company's all-time best-selling running shoe.

Runner's choice

Nike + Run Club Head Coach Matty Abel has worn various versions of the Nike Air Zoom Pegasus during the past 15 years.

"Every morning when I was a kid, Mum and I would run around the block, and I nagged her for a pair of Nikes," says Abel.

"Mum gave in, and bought me my first pair of Nike Pegasus runners when I was around 15 years old."

"The Pegasus has always been my reliable pair of running shoes, and right now, they are my go-to runners. I wear them on nearly every run and I run multiple times a day."

Winding roads

Despite the shoe's strong cult following, in a in a strange turn of events, the Pegasus was temporarily dropped from the line in the late 1990s and later resurfaced with a new name – the Arma. As expected, everyone from the retail store managers to the fanatical runners within the Nike family was upset with the decision. Thousands of runners reached out to Nike via emails, letters and phone calls, asking for the shoe they'd fallen in love with years ago and hoping that the franchise would be restored. Commonsense prevailed, and the Pegasus made its made its official return to the line in 2000 as the Air Pegasus 2000, featuring the legendary Bill Bowerman Waffle sole.  

Since then there have been several aggressive updates to the shoe, including some positive strides for the women's version. Nike's strong appetite for innovation and the shoe's constant evolution has made it a popular choice with elite runners from around the world such as Joan Benoit Samuelson, Eliud Kipchoge, Evan Jagger, Amy Cragg, and Australia's very own Steve Moneghetti.

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"I've probably ran in most of the Pegasus shoes," says Moneghetti. "They are rock-solid, and they've always been my go to shoe because they are reliable and very supportive."

Same, same but different  

This year, when it came time to update the shoe, designers sought feedback from elite athletes (including one of the shoe's biggest fans, champion British distance runner Mo Farah). It was clear that some performance elements were not to be tinkered with, and some areas could do with a freshen up. The all-new Pegasus 35 features some key updates while maintaining the quick feel that has made the Pegasus line so popular. So, what's different and what's remained the same. Here's a rundown:

What's the same

The mesh cut and sew upper remains the same and the midsole is still a mix of Nike Zoom Air and Cushlon foam. Moneghetti says the Pegasus 35 is light and spongey. "It's an amazing transformation because it still provides all the support the shoe is known for, but allows you to get a bit of a bounce due to its lightness. It's a major progression and I'm enjoying wearing them," he says.

What's new

The tongue is notched to make it easier to slide on and off, while designers moved the bottom eyelet to provide flex in the foot. The collar is directed away from the Achilles for added comfort, a design shift that came direct from Farah's insights. The beveled heel helps with touchdown (plus it looks fast and modern), and the women's silhouette features a slightly softer Cushlon foam specifically tuned for the female foot.

Run to the future

Abel says, "the way we run and train have really shifted over the past three decades."

"Nowadays, runners are all about spending less time on the ground and more time flying over the trails, through the streets and across the finish line."

"Nike developed the Zoom Airbag in the midsole that provides responsive cushioning for runners and gives them maximum flexibility and comfort. The Pegasus 35 combines two airbags used in the previous Pegasus runners into one, mimicking the curved shape of the Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4%'s carbon fiber plate. I really like this new shape as the feeling and responsiveness has improved, while still having the flexibility in the underfoot."​

With 35 years under its belt, the Pegasus has hit its stride. Given Nike's dedication to the franchise, Pegasus should be carrying a new generation of runners on its wings for years to come.