‘Super shoe’ wars intensify as Kelvin Kiptum shatters men’s marathon record

There is likely to be similar interest when Nike officially release their latest shoe which was worn in Chicago by Kiptum, as well as Sifan Hassan, who won the women’s race in the second fastest time ever just six weeks after winning track medals in the 1500m and 5000m at the World Championships in Budapest.

The shoe has been ratified by World Athletics for developmental use until December 3 this year under the name ‘NikeDev163’ and, although its exact properties have not been publicly released, it has been used in recent months by elite Nike runners. It is viewed inside athletics as the next version of the Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% 2 shoe, which Nike currently sells for £279.95.

The second-placed man in Chicago, Benson Kipruto, was wearing the new Adidas super shoe that Assefa had worn for the women’s world record but finished more than three minutes behind Kiptum, who became the first man under 2hr 1min in a ratified race.

The defining ‘super shoe’ features are a stiff plate or rods embedded within the midsole, usually made of carbon, to help hold the shape of the shoe. A curved midsole geometry is also designed to propel the runner forward, with manufacturers all using a lightweight but resilient high-energy foam.

Kipchoge famously became the first person to go under two hours in Vienna in 2019, while wearing the original Alphafly prototype, but that also involved teams of pacers, and a specially chosen course and is not regarded as the official world record.

Although Kipchoge did return to form by winning the men’s Berlin marathon for the fifth time two weeks ago (in the same Nike prototype shoe as Kiptum), the younger Kenyan has produced the two outstanding marathon performances this year. He now looks favourite both to become the first runner under two hours in a ratified race and to win Olympic marathon gold next summer following Kipchoge’s victories in Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo.

Kiptum did the damage in Chicago over the final 12km of the race when, having been behind Kipchoge’s record pace, he broke clear alone with a stunning 5km split of 13min 49sec to put himself on course for marathon history.

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