Eliud Kipchoge, the reigning Olympic marathon champion and holder of the world record, will wear the Nike Air Zoom Alphafly Next% for the 2020 elite-only London Marathon this Sunday. These are pretty much the same shoes he wore for the Ineos-1:59 Challenge in Vienna last October, when he became the first person to run a marathon in under two hours.
Kipchoge will be taking on, among others, Ethiopian Kenenisa Bekele, who missed out on Kipchoge’s marathon world record of 2:01:39 by just two seconds at the Berlin Marathon last year.
Speaking to Runner’s World this evening, Kipchoge said, ‘I was really involved in the making of the Alphafly Next%. My work was to test the shoe, to test how it feels, to compare the new sole to the old one, to feel how it responds when I’m running and give all my feedback to the technicians.’
When Kipchoge wore the shoe for the Ineos 1:59 Challenge, there were accusations that it had multiple carbon plates and there were calls for it to be banned from competition. In January, World Athletics announced that from April 30 of this year, any shoe used in competition must have been available for purchase on the retail market for four months, in effect banning the use of prototypes in competition. The new regulations also stated a shoe must not have a stack height of more than 40mm, a restriction the Alphafly complies with.
Speaking to Runner’s World in February, Nike said, ‘We are pleased the Nike Zoom Vaporfly series and Nike Zoom Alphafly NEXT% remain legal. We will continue our dialogue with World Athletics and the industry on standards for performance footwear that meets the needs of elite and everyday athletes.’
The London Marathon edition of Kipchoge’s Alphafly shoes remains largely unchanged – they feature a full-length carbon plate, Zoom X cushioning and the two Nike Zoom Air Pods, which have been added to the forefoot for responsive cushioning and propulsion. The personal details include a green-and-red colourway – a nod to the national flag of Kenya. The shoes also feature the runner’s initials and 1:59:40 – the time he ran in Vienna.
When speaking about what the new colourway meant to him, Kipchoge told Runner’s World, ‘It’s really crucial. It’s really important to me to wear a shoe on Sunday which has Kenyan colours. I believe I represent Kenya around the clock and this shoe can do the same. People can wear the flag all around the world. That’s how people can become one.’
Nike said, ‘The Nike Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% Kenya colourway celebrates the inspiration that Kenya and Eliud bring to the running community.’ The company is also giving runners the chance to purchase the special-edition shoes – Nike Members who participate in the Future of Fast challenge, by running 1.59 miles on the Nike Run Club app, starting from Sunday, October 4, will be in with a chance of purchasing a pair.