What happens when the world's fastest marathoner challenges one of the world's leading running brands to develop a new shoe?
It brings to fruition the world's fastest running shoe, the Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbo.
The latest running innovation from Nike was Eliud Kipchoge's idea. The reigning Olympic Marathon champion and Breaking 2 athlete wanted to bring the magic of his race day shoe – the Zoom Vapor Elite and 4% – into a daily running shoe.
Challenging the status quo
Kipchoge says he thought the team at Nike were crazy when they handed him a pair of Vaporfly 4%.
"I believe in practical change. If you want to succeed on race day, you must build your belief, everyday, in practice," says Kipchoge.
"I wanted to feel, in every run, some of the magic I get when I race in the Vaporfly, to help push during training, and remember why I'm pushing so hard. I wanted to fly."
Bring the fast
Launched in what Nike considers to be the world's fastest city, Tokyo, the Zoom Pegasus Turbo promises to bring "fast" to all runners. Running Vice President Brett Holts says Tokyo is a mecca for runners and a source of inspiration for the company.
"Japan has a reputation for creating some of the world's fastest runners. The country's dedication to the sport and its athletes is inspiring, and this year nine Japanese runners ran under 2:10 minutes in the Tokyo marathon," says Holts.
"Our mission is to maximise an athlete's potential by creating the world's best running products. With Tokyo set to host the 2020 Olympics we're excited to launch our latest running innovation here."
Built to deliver a feeling similar to the Pegasus but with the lightweight sensation of a racing flat, the Zoom Pegasus Turbo takes inspiration from several running shoes. Starting with the Pegasus - Nike's best-selling running shoe of all time – the Turbo maintains the familiar Pegasus fit and feel by using the same shape that runners love.
The shoe's lightweight, translucent mesh upper is inspired by the transparency featured in some of Nike's most recent racing shoes like the Zoom Vaporfly 4%, as well as feedback from athletes who asked for more airflow to keep their feet cool. The Pegasus Turbo uses the same highly responsive ZoomX foam in the midsole and the flywire cable locks in the foot to increase stability, while the 10mm offset and 12mm forefoot stack height to help runners store more energy.
Interestingly, the Turbo doesn't include the carbon fibre plate found in the Zoom Vaporfly Elite and 4, which increases stiffness to provide a propulsion sensation. Feedback from elite runners who've ran (and won) major marathons in these shoes, including Eliud Kipchoge and Galen Rupp, revealed that although the Vaporfly is ideal for race day, it feels a little too fast for everyday use.
Slow it down
Holts says that, "our athletes asked us to save the carbon fibre plate of the Vaporfly for race day."
"To make this shoe a versatile, everyday training shoe they wanted us to maximise the amount of ZoomX foam underfoot.
"We've done exactly that to deliver the benefits of lightness, responsiveness and protection. We've also added a thin layer of React foam closest to the ground to stabilise the midsole and add durability," says Holts.
Designed as an everyday training product, runners can expect to get more than 800 kilometres of running from this shoe. It's super foamy sole delivers an 85 per cent energy return, which helps reduce muscle fatigue on long runs and allows runners to back-up faster after hard training sessions.
After dinner sneaker
Olympic medallist and winner of last year's women's New York City Marathon Shalane Flanagan says the Pegasus Turbo are her 'dessert shoe'.
"I have diva feet – meaning I run in lots of different shoes," says Flanagan. "What excites me about the Pegasus Turbo is that it feels like a treat to train in. It's responsive, lightweight design allows me to be aggressive in my training."
The Pegasus Turbo's design is inspired by Nike athletes' need for speed. It features a fluorescent pink racing stripe from the shoe's tongue to below the forefoot, along with the signature drop swoosh on the side midfoot.
Food for the sole
So what does the brainchild for the Pegasus Turbo think of Nike's creation? Kipchoge says the beauty is the ZoomX foam used to make the sole.
"It's really light and it absorbs all the impact from the ground. You can train comfortably without worrying," says Kipchoge.
"I mainly use the Pegasus Turbo for my longer runs, especially for 30 kilometres or more. The reason is that it helps my muscles to recover fast - very fast. This shoe helps me get the most out of my training. So when the race arrives, I just fly."
The Pegasus Turbo will be available online and in select retailers from 2 Äugust.
The writer was a guest of Nike.