Nike’s most popular marathon shoe has just been rebooted as a racer


Sports giant Nike and their flagship marathon-ready Vaporfly shoes have changed the world of professional long-distance running as we know it. Athletes shod in shoes at once ultralight and paradoxically blocky shattered longstanding records, sending race officials flying to rewrite the rule book.

Nowadays, the idea of maximally stacked running shoes sporting both a thick foam layer and an energy-retentive carbon plate hidden within are nothing novel.

So how exactly does Nike hope to replicate a miracle? Apparently, by redesigning the look of their most popular marathon runners, while slicing off some foam from the midsole and adding extra stability to boot.

These are just some of the tweaks featured in the soon-to-release Vaporfly 3 (full name ZoomX Vaporfly Next% 3), the latest iteration of Nike’s famed long-distance kicks, which are said to return even more energy than previous versions.

Related: Run faster with Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next% 2 shoes 

A new, hardier rubber compound on the sole

Nike Vaporfly 3
Photo: Nike

This is made possible with a new, hardier rubber compound on the sole, allowing it to be 2mm thinner than its predecessor. The extra real estate is therefore replaced with extra ZoomX (Nike’s name for its proprietary energy-returning material) foam, increasing running efficiency.

On the flipside, the midsole and heel have been significantly reshaped, with large swathes of foam removed — the idea being that each stride receives that same propulsive kick-off, while shedding off any unnecessary weight.

Nike Vaporfly 3
Photo: Nike

It is only about four per cent lighter than before, which is not insignificant on the feet of a professional athlete during an ultramarathon. Nike has also endeavoured to improve the stability of the shoe on tight corners, while improving the quick-drying Flyknit upper with newer, better materials.

The Vaporfly 3, which went on sale online on March 6 online and at various specialty running stores, is available with one colourway for now. It is dubbed the ‘Prototype’ in reference to the Nike Running team’s development journey and a nod to the very first Vaporfly during the Breaking 2 test event back in 2017.